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Social justice activist speaks out against anti-riot bill now in effect, Gilchrist County Sheriff in favor

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 6:51 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Enhancing riot-related penalties is just one of a few actions the anti-riot bill (HB 1) signed by Governor Desantis will put in place, and it raises concerns for some Gainesville activists.

“It is the strongest, anti-rioting pro law enforcement piece of legislation in the country,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

The law will create greater consequences for rioters and introduce a new crime of mob intimidation.

Related story: State “Anti-riot” bill causes concern from activist group, state senator offers an ear

Goddsville Dream Defenders is a Florida social justice group created after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

Their lead organizer, Manu Osorio, believes this new legislation will intimidate peaceful protestors.

“It’s difficult, it’s difficult recognizing that this will bring more fear to our people that want to stand up and might possibly bring more retaliation from law enforcement,” Manu Osorio said.

The bill also makes it difficult for local governments to defund any law enforcement.

The law leaves Osorio concerned about the Governor’s intentions.

“I think it’s a farce that this bill protects law enforcement because under the florida law, law enforcement is already protected,” Osorio said. “This is Ron DeSantis’ way of getting his base to agree with him and vote him in in 2022.”

Gilchrist County Sheriff, Bobby Schultz, was in Polk County with Gov. DeSantis when he signed the bill and feels it will benefit protestors.

Related story: Gov. DeSantis signs HB 1 ‘anti riot’ bill

“It gives us an opportunity to protect individuals who want to peacefully protest and demonstrate,” Schultz said. “It’s very hard to provide protection for individuals who want to protest and we encourage that that’s what our country was founded on.”

Schultz said the bill will require rioters to stay in jail for 24 hours.

“It doesn’t make sense that you can go and riot, and we know the difference between a peaceful protest and a riot, and cause a disturbance and burn somebody’s stuff down and you get arrested as a riot, a misdemeanor and back out of jail doing it within three to four hours,” Schultz added.

In light of George Floyd’s murder, the Dream Defenders brought more than one thousand Alachua County residents out for a peaceful protest.

Osorio said they still plan to protest peacefully but that doesn’t mean the bill is fair.

“It’s just attacking us and attacking the movement but we know that that’s not right.

Now, anybody who destroys monuments will face 2nd degree felony charges.

“It’ll just take more ability from the people and movement to gather that bail, gather the lawyers and do everything we can to protect our people,” Osorio said. “No matter what laws were already against the movement this just adds more.”

HB 1 goes into effect immediately.

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