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Democrats denounce DeSantis proposal as ‘desperate ploy’ to distract

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State Rep. Shevrin Jones led a virtual press conference opposing a legislative proposal by Gov. Ron DeSantis to crack down on violent or disorderly protests. Photos: Joe Byrnes

Several Democratic state lawmakers denounced a new legislative proposal by Gov. Ron DeSantis to crack down on protests that turn violent or destructive.

In a Zoom press conference Tuesday afternoon, they said the violent acts are already illegal.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando called it a “desperate ploy” by DeSantis to distract from failures on COVID-19 and unemployment.

“For him, nothing is more important than helping Trump in an effort to make Floridians believe that it’s black and brown peaceful protesters against injustice who are a bigger threat to them than the failed Trump-DeSantis response to coronavirus,” he said.

Rep. Shevrin Jones of Broward County said America was shaped through peaceful protest.

“And to the governor,” Jones said, “with all due respect, sir, you’ve just declared war on our civil rights. And the people that’s on here, we are prepared to strap up our boots and, in the spirit of John Lewis, and get in some good trouble.”

On Monday, DeSantis announced legislative proposals to ratchet up penalties when assemblies turn violent or destructive, damage monuments, block roadways or harass people in restaurants.

The proposed legislation would shield drivers who kill protesters while fleeing and would defund local governments that cut police budgets.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.