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Anti-Riot Bill Advances To House Vote With Changes

Photo: Matt Popovich
Photo: Matt Popovich

A controversial Republican-sponsored bill that aims to crack down on violent protests is on its way to a full vote in the House.
GOP State Representative Juan Fernandez-Barquin of Miami is the bill’s sponsor. At a recent committee meeting, he explained that he changed the bill’s wording to assure people that the legislation wouldn’t lead to unconstitutional arrests. “The key word in all of this is violence. I am absolutely in support of peaceful protest. But the distinguishing factor here is violence. That’s why we in the amendment included and I included violence before public disturbance to clarify because if you take out violence and you just keep it as public disturbance - technically one can argue that a protest is a public disturbance.” The legislation doesn’t define what counts as a peaceful protest. That has some Democratic state lawmakers concerned that it wouldn’t fully protect nonviolent demonstrators from possible arrest if a riot breaks out nearby.