Ron DeSantis is a steaming turd

Fortunately, this very true fact is something that's still very legal to say.

Screengrab via Polk County Sheriff's Office/FB

This morning, in the midst of George Floyd’s murder-by-cop trial and surrounded by a crowd of grinning white men, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law his signature piece of legislation, a hyper-partisan “anti-riot” bill that most certainly sucks.

Despite Democrats and Black legislators arguing that the measure would squash First Amendment rights, and disproportionately impact people of color who are already arrested and incarcerated at higher rates than white people, DeSantis told reporters at a press conference in Winter Haven today that the bill is the “strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country.”

"We saw unprecedented rioting throughout 2020," the governor said, while also ignoring the fact that most of this said 'rioting' never happened in Florida. "We wanted to make sure we protect the people of our great state, businesses and property against any type of mob activity. We’re here today being prepared to sign that bill into law."

Besides creating a new felony crime of “aggravated rioting,” that carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, the bill proposes a host of changes, including the new crime of “mob intimidation,” which would make it unlawful “for a person, assembled with two or more other persons and acting with a common intent, to use force or threaten to use imminent force, to compel or induce, or attempt to compel or induce, another person to do or refrain from doing any act or to assume, abandon, or maintain a particular viewpoint against his or her will.”

The bill also protects Confederate monuments along with other racist memorials, statues and historic property, and limits local governments from reducing bloated police budgets.

“This bill actually prevents local government from defunding law enforcement,” said DeSantis. “We will be able to stop it at the state level.”

Of course, Florida Democrats did what they could, which is pretty much limited to just saying the bill is bad and DeSantis is bad.

“This legislation undermines every Floridian’s constitutional rights, and it is disgusting that the GOP would rather empower vigilantes and silence voices than listen to the majority of Floridians who oppose this dangerous bill,” said Shevrin Jones (D-West Park), who is Black, in a statement. The Governor’s press conference spectacle was a distraction that will only further disenfranchise Black and Brown communities. We need to deliver much-needed relief to those hurting from the pandemic, from families grieving after losing loved ones, to workers whose hours have been cut, to small businesses forced to shutter, to our schools — not waste more time flaming divisive rhetoric that will tear more people apart.” 

The “anti-riot” bill was a signature item for DeSantis, who is running for reelection in 2022, and was signed into law despite opposition from experts and from his own constituents. A recent poll, from Florida Politics, found that nearly 40% called the proposal a very bad idea, and another 23% considered the bill a somewhat bad idea. However, slightly more than 19% considered the legislation a very good idea, and only 18% said it was somewhat good.

A study released earlier this month found that the bill would not only overload the prison system, but also burden taxpayers. The study estimated that roughly “270 to 720 additional prison beds will be occupied under the bill’s new and enhanced charges at any given time.” 

“The bill, if passed and signed into law, will impose costs to the taxpayer and to those arrested that far exceed the possible benefits of the increased sanctions,” said Dr.  Rick Harper, an economist and former director of the University of West Florida Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development, who conducted the study.

Monday's signing attracted a who's-who of local chuds, including Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, PBA president Darla Portman, and Florida media-lovers Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. 

"Pay attention, we got a new law and we're going to use it if you make us. We're going to protect the people,” said Judd, who, over the summer encouraged vigilantism against BLM protesters. "We saw folks' businesses around this nation who literally worked their entire life and had every penny in their life savings involved. We’re going to proactive and we’re going to make sure people are safe."

But everything you need to know about this horribly shitty bill can easily be summed up into the fact that DeSantis took zero question from reporters today, but gave an exclusive interview with Breitbart, the alt-right publication that up until a few years ago, had a "Black Crime" section on its website. 

As of now, Democrats and civil rights groups argue the law may get caught up in legal battles and eventually be struck down by the Supreme Court, but one thing is certain: Ron DeSantis is a steaming turd.

Support local journalism in these crazy days. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you up to the minute news on how Coronavirus is affecting Tampa and surrounding areas. Please consider making a one time or monthly donation to help support our staff. Every little bit helps.

Follow @cl_tampabay on Twitter to get the most up-to-date news + views. Subscribe to our newsletter, too. 

About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Euclid Media Group.
Scroll to read more Florida News articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]