George Floyd protests over last year trigger wave of GOP ‘anti-riot’ laws

George Floyd protests - Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct
A protester carries a U.S. flag upside, a sign of distress, next to a burning building Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Following George Floyd’s death, protests erupted across America last summer and throughout the past year. 

Since the incident in May of 2020, at least 90 bills across 35 states concerning demonstrations have been in development. This information is retrieved from the nonpartisan International Center for Non-for-Profit Law. Proponents of the bills suggest they are anti-rioting and pro-law enforcement. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida said, “It is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country and there’s just nothing even close” in regard to his state’s bill.

The legislation places harsher penalties on those who break the law while rioting. When arrested, rioters can be held criminals until a first court appearance. New felonies will be established for organizing or engaging in a riot. The bill removes civil liability protections from local governments who attempt to interfere with law enforcement managing riots. Destruction of a monument, for instance, a plaque, statue, flag, or painting, is now regarded as a second-degree felony. Criminals may face up to 10 years in prison. Florida’s new bill sets a national precedent and paves the legislative road for states following its lead.

In Kentucky, legislation making it a crime to taunt or insult police was recently passed. In Indiana and Minnesota, bills plan to cut state benefits for criminals engaged in an unlawful assembly. Opponents of the legislation say that the line between constitutional and unlawful protesting is too fine. “The laws create a situation where peaceful protesters are caught up in these criminal charges which often carry very serious penalties, where an individual is deemed guilty of an offense by virtue — not of their own conduct — but of the conduct and actions of people around them,” said Elly Page, The International Center for Non-for-Profit Law’s senior legal adviser and director of the U.S. Protest Law Tracker.





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