Gov. Ron DeSantis has drafted “anti-mob” legislation that would expand Florida’s Stand Your Ground law — a move that critics say will allow armed citizens to shoot suspected looters or anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business.
Lawyers say it’s just one of the many troubling aspects of the draft bill being pushed by the Republican governor in response to police-brutality protests that erupted across Florida and the United States this summer.
“It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions,” said Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor who had handled Stand Your Ground cases. “It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”
The draft legislation put specifics behind DeSantis’ pledge in September to crack down on “violent and disorderly assemblies” after he pointed to “reports of unrest” in other parts of the country after the high-profile death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer.
The proposal would expand the list of “forcible felonies” under Florida’s self-defense law to justify the use of force against people who engage in criminal mischief that results in the “interruption or impairment” of a business, and looting, which the draft defines as a burglary within 500 feet of a “violent or disorderly assembly.”