Judge bans GOP-backed riot law in Florida
St. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) – A federal judge has ruled that Florida’s new “riot control” law adopted by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis as a way to quell violent protests is unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Thursday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee found the recently enacted law “vague and broad” and amounted to an assault on First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly as well as due process protections.
According to the law, people who participate in a peaceful protest can face criminal charges if they are in the same area where the demonstration turns violent.
The lawsuit was brought by the NAACP convention in Florida, Dream Defenders, the Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, and other groups that argued that the law was intended to stop protests by blacks and other minorities.
The measure was passed earlier this year and signed by the governor in April. It was a reaction to the nationwide demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd, a black man by Minneapolis police last year, that sparked passions across the country under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement.
DeSantis can appeal the ruling.