Florida Judge Blocks Enforcement Of Controversial Anti-Riot Bill

Rear View Of Man Holding American Flag In Crowd

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Back in April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill he claimed was "the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country." Now, enforcement of the bill has been blocked by a judge, saying it chills free speech, The Washington Post reports.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker called the Republican governor's "new definition of 'riot'" vague, effectively criminalizing "vast swaths of core First Amendment speech." The judge also noted that one line in the law, which prohibits “willfully participating in a violent public disturbance,” isn't clearly defined either.

“Is it enough to stand passively near violence?” Walker wrote. “What if you continue protesting when violence erupts? What if that protest merely involves standing with a sign while others fight around you? Does it depend on whether your sign expresses a message that is pro- or anti-law enforcement? What about filming the violence?"

The controversial bill was created in response to the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. Multiple organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, were quick to sue the state over the law.

The governor says his team plans on appealing Walker's decision.

"That’s a foreordained conclusion from that court," DeSantis said the bill. "I guarantee you, we’ll win that on appeal."

This is the second loss DeSantis has occurred this week. A circuit judge ruled against DeSantis again over his executive order prohibiting school districts from enacting mask mandates and even punishing districts if they defied him.

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