Democrats call on GOP donors to protest after Senate Republicans pass anti-riot bills

Marking one of Florida’s most emotional moments of the 2021 session, Senate Democrats consider racist, unconstitutional, and partisan to major Republican political donors on Thursday. He called on Governor Ron DeSantis to put pressure on the “anti-mob” legislation.

“Do something, not on the sidelines. Senator Perry Thurston of D-Fort Lauderdale said in a call to grocery chains, theme parks and utilities. Many of these companies Contributes significantly to the Florida Republic, many of which also contribute to the Democratic Party.

The call for action came after nearly three hours of emotional and enthusiastic discussions on the Senate floor, culminating in the Republican-led Chamber of Commerce passing the bill with 23-17 votes. .. Jeff Brandes, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in St. Petersburg, was the only Republican to vote against it.

After the vote, some Senate Democrats held a press conference in black T-shirts on dress shirts and ties, and under suit jackets. Senate Democratic leader Gary Farmer of Lighthouse Point said it was intended to mean their “first amendment to the death memorial.” He added that Republican leaders said they couldn’t wear T-shirts during the floor debate because they violated the “rules of etiquette.”

Members of the Florida Democratic rally said Senate Republican leaders said they were not allowed to wear black T-shirts as a sign of protest during the

Members of the Democratic Caucus in Florida said during a debate on the “anti-riot” bill on Thursday, April 15, 2021, Senate Republican leaders were not allowed to wear black T-shirts as a sign of protest. Said he was. After voting, turn them on for reporters. From left, Senator Bobby Powell of West Palm Beach, Victor Torres of Orlando, Gary Farmer of Lighthouse Point, Chevrin Jones of Miami Gardens, and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale. “Not only do we mourn the death of the First Amendment’s rights, but we also mourn the slow disappearance of the death of democracy,” Jones said.

Invoice (HB 1), According to Senator Chevrin Jones of D-Miami Gardens, strengthening penalties for numerous existing crimes committed during protests and states of emergency has already led to those who want to organize. I will.

The organizer, Jones himself, said he had received three to four text messages from activists he had organized in the past and asked, “What’s next?”

“Take it to the street,” Jones said. “They are ready.”

With a pen stroke

The bill at the governor’s desk will come into effect as soon as the law is signed.

Above all, the bill will allow people to sue local governments for damages resulting from riots or unlawful sessions. Also, new crimes such as “mob threats” and “riot incitement” could result in up to 15 years in prison for destroying monuments dedicated to historical figures and events. Face two felony crimes. prison.

Jason Pizzo, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Commission, D-Miami, has expressed concern about timing, noting that law enforcement officers usually require time and training on how to enforce new laws. Former prosecutor Pizzo is also concerned that the bill is too broad, and arrests and convictions will be subjective as it is written today.

The Republicans in the House of Representatives, who rushed the proposal early in the session, were the ones who drafted most of the bill, including changes to make it take effect as soon as it was signed. Most bills usually come into effect on July 1, the beginning of the state government’s fiscal year.

Desantis, who is positioning himself for reelection in 2022, is expected to sign the bill.

DeSantis was the first to propose the idea after national protests over the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt for nine minutes. DeSantis proposed this idea when he worked to hand over Florida to former President Donald Trump at a press conference in Polk County in the midst of the 2020 elections. He says it will fight “riots and looting.”

“Everyone running for public office in Florida this year is obliged to let voters know where they stand on the bill, whether they run for the House of Representatives or the Senate,” DeSantis said at the time. .. “Are you going to face law, order and a safe community, or are you going to face a mob?”

Senator Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, said Thursday that the driving force behind the bill was the governor’s political aspirations.

“This is mail for reelection for the particular base that wants it. This is not in the interest of all Floridians,” she said. “We need to pass the bill for all Floridians, not just those seeking power.”

Senate Democrats are now trying to fight the proposal in the same way by calling on the “business community,” including some of Desantis’ donors, to agree with his proposal.

“If he doesn’t listen to the cries of the business world … well, the next step is to bring it into the court system, a great equalizer,” Farmer said. “This bill is clearly and blatantly unconstitutional and will eventually be withdrawn — not by this Supreme Court, but by the United States Supreme Court.”

Senator Bobby Powell of D-West Palm Beach said on Monday that several members of the black legislative Caucus issued a statement calling on state business leaders to speak out. HB 1, It aims not only to oppose the voting reform package they say, but also to curb the votes of the Florida minority.

Black executives said they were urging companies to respect last summer’s promises they made in support of Black Lives Matter after Floyd’s death.

“Now, when black and brown communities are threatened by laws that affect disproportionately, silence from their businesses is an implicit approval of their disfranchisement,” the legislator warned. ..

Road to the aisle

Throughout the legislative process, hundreds of supporters and Democrats of the Florida legislature have said the bill has a “shrinking effect” on peaceful protests, while Republicans say the bill is about “law and order.” He said it would bring it and affect the minority disproportionately.

Farmer said the pandemic protocol had reduced the number of people who came to Tallahassee to protest the bill, leaving false reassurance to the Republican leaders behind it.

“This building is basically not open to the public,” says Farmer. “If this was last year, the Commission’s room and the legislature would have been” full of people protesting and calling for hypocrisy. “

The battle for suggestions is Behind-the-scenes political joke The first half of the session.As the bill went to final passage, Republican leaders in both houses began to say more. Support for police reform billThe Democrats’ complaints were not well expressed in HB1.

On Thursday, much of the discussion focused on those issues.

Senator Audrey Gibson of D-Jacksonville said the bill was “convincing” and was drafted in response to police atrocities. Senator Tina Polsky of D-Boca Raton said the bill was about “silence of opposition.” Senator Janet Cruz of D-Tampa said it was a “partisan attempt to limit the ability to protest.”

“You don’t want us to be on the street. You don’t want us to kneel in the game. You don’t want us to close the street,” Jones said. “Our response to injustice is to protest, but when our line of trust is to look down the street to hear our voice in this injustice system, your response is that. Is to criminalize. “

Republicans, meanwhile, argue that the bill is about “law and order.”

“Unfortunately, what we’ve heard so much today is the victims of violence, business, work, and livelihoods lost in the riots,” said Senator Danny Burgess, a Republican bill sponsor. Said. “That’s the content of the bill. It’s not about peaceful protests. It’s about law and order.”

Senate Expenditure Committee Chairman Kelly Stargel, R-Lakeland, admitted that “racism is absolutely present” and that she and her colleagues “confront racism 100%.”

But she said the bill was about fighting violence, not racism.

“Hopefully it does what we want, and it stops the violence, murder, and unintended death that arose from the protest. Fire, all that,” said Stargel. “If not, I’ll come back here every year to work on it.”

DeSantis admitted that protests of racial justice in Florida have been largely peaceful since Floyd’s death. But he said a bill was needed to prevent such anxiety.

Senator Ed Hooper of R-Clearwater voted in favor of the bill, but said there was “heartburn” about the possible racial impact of the bill.

“Can you say that this bill isn’t about racism? It’s not perfect. You can’t,” Hooper said. But he said he would support the bill because he didn’t believe Burgess was racial.

Jones criticized a Republican colleague who declared they were not racists.

“If you say that, it must be in line with your actions,” he said. “Their behavior wasn’t in line with it today, because at the heart of it is Houseville 1 is a racist.”