Florida governor aware of extortion laws to charge protesters – FindLaw

Miami, Florida - July 7: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference about the Coronavirus held at Pan American Hospital on July 7, 2020 in Miami, Florida.  Governor DeSantis has spoken of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in Florida.  (Photo by Joe Riedel / Getty Images)

If you are familiar with RICO laws, chances are you have pictures of gangsters with weird names from Jersey being taken to jail.

RICO, as you know, stands for Racketeer Affected and Corrupt Organizations Act. This law came into effect nationally in 1970 as a tool to give enforcers the power to prosecute persons associated with a criminal act even though they may not have committed a crime personally.

Initially, they were targeting the mafia, so men who ordered hitters to beat someone or dealt with dirty money could go to jail with fellow crime suspects.

The use of the RICO laws has expanded far beyond the crackdowns in the decades that followed, but not in the way that Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis is currently proposing. On September 21, DeSantis revealed it Law on Combating Violence, Disturbance, and Pillaging and Law Enforcement Protection The proposal aims to take a tough stand with undisciplined protesters, and is included in its extraordinarily bold actions, a proposal related to RICO.

Here’s what it says: “RICO is responsible for anyone organizing or financing a violent or disorganized assembly.”

Very difficult language

Note that the proposed law does not say anything about the circumstances or circumstances, such as whether a policeman or counter-demonstrator may have caused the violence. It just says that if you funded or organized a protest in Florida and it became violent for any reason, you might be headed for the attacker.

There is a lot of hard talk in the proposed DeSantis Act. For example, the law calls for third-degree criminal charges to be imposed on anyone who obstructs traffic during a violent or unorganized assembly, with anyone “fleeing the mob in search of safety” exempting their vehicle for any injury or death.

In other words, it’s a bit like a motor vehicle version of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law on the use of firearms, which provides shooters with an excuse that they shot just because they felt threatened. May 27 At least 100 incidents of people driving towards protesters It was recorded, according to Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago.

Critical reactions

Although Florida has seen very little unrest in many other states, many Republicans and law enforcement officials have expressed support for the measure.

“I think it’s ahead of a potential problem. It has made clear that law enforcement in Florida specifically will not tolerate issues like looting, riots and violence … against police officers,” said Stewart, Police Chief Joseph Tominelli.

The problem, according to critics, is that the proposed DeSantis Act may be unconstitutional.

Issued by Mika Kubik, executive director of the Florida Civil Liberties Union Permit He described DeSantis’ proposal as “undemocratic and hostile to the common values ​​of Americans” and “an unconstitutional bill that would placate free speech.”

He said, “These tactics are unconstitutional as they are.” Bacardi Jackson, Attorney at Southern Poverty Law Center.

Even some law enforcement officials Less than enthusiastic. “If the goal is to strike a balance between protecting First Amendment rights for people and public safety, that is a laudable goal,” said Andrew Warren, Hillsboro state attorney general. But it appears that many of these proposals are political theater that will have no real impact in addressing the problems That leads to the violent protests we are all trying to prevent. “

Continue driving AG Barr?

In escalating difficult talk, DeSantis appears to be following in the lead of Attorney General William Barr. In mid-September, Barr told federal prosecutors that they should get tougher with the protesters and consider charging them. Strife, A crime generally linked to the overthrow of the government.

Barr’s proposal has drawn widespread condemnation, including harsh criticism from Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano, a former judge, who called it “ridiculous” and “a bridge too far.”

Michael Gerhard, professor of constitutional law at the University of North Carolina, said that successful prosecution of incitement to sedition requires plaintiffs to prove that there is a conspiracy against the government, and that doing so was “never heard before” in the United States. USA Today.

We live in times of combat, so maybe we’ll hear about it being used against American citizens soon. Florida lawmakers may decide to enact the DeSantis Act, though critics estimate it will Tied up in lawsuits for years to come. DeSantis has called on the legislature to pass the bill the next month after the general election.

Meanwhile, if you choose to exercise your First Amendment right to protest, it may be wise to leave the area if the protest turns violent. It may also be wise to write down or memorize the number of a criminal defense attorney in your area and carry it with you.

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