Miami Herald editorial board slams Florida's 'racist legislative proposal': Worse than Stand Your Ground

Miami Herald editorial board slams Florida's 'racist legislative proposal': Worse than Stand Your Ground

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans in the state legislature have been aggressively promoting House Bill 1, a stand-your-ground proposal being described by some Floridians as the "Combating Public Disorder Bill." The Miami Herald's editorial board slams the law in a blistering editorial published on February 10, arguing that HB1 isn't about public safety, but racial fear-mongering.

"Proponents of Florida's proposed 'Combating Public Disorder' law are spinning it as a reaction to the violent mobs that stormed the nation's Capitol on January 6 to try to reverse the results of the presidential election," the Herald's editorial board explains. "But don't be fooled. House Bill 1, a priority of the Republican leadership in Tallahassee, is redundant, racist and totally political. It's aimed at Black Lives Matter and will make it dangerous for the movement's supporters to take to the streets, however peacefully."

DeSantis first proposed such a bill in September — well before the January 6 insurrection. Micah Kubic, executive director of the Florida American Civil Liberties Union, has denounced HB1 as authoritarian and "problematic from beginning to end," and the Herald's editorial board concurs.

"Florida already has laws that punish violence, theft, burglary and vandalism committed at protests," the Herald's editorial board notes. "Last year, protests in the Sunshine State mostly were peaceful. But HB 1 would impose harsher sentences if those crimes are committed during participation in a 'riot" or 'unlawful assembly,' which are loosely defined in the bill. The proposal also would make it a third-degree felony to cause $200 or more in damage to a monument — by that, read Confederate monument — and would create a slew of new crimes."

The editorial board adds, "It would fill up jails by ordering that those deemed as rioters be detained with no bond until a first-appearance hearing. Worse, it lets vigilantes and counter protesters who injure or kill those considered rioters escape liability in a civil lawsuit. Kyle Rittenhouse, anyone?"

The Herald, in its editorial, also cites examples of law enforcement dealing with far-right extremists much less harshly than Black Lives Matter. In New Port Richey, Florida, for example, BLM activists got into a verbal confrontation with members of the Proud Boys in 2020 — and only BLM activists were cited for violating an anti-noise ordinance. Members of the Proud Boys were among the violent extremists who, along with QAnon sympathizers and members of various militia groups, were among the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6.

"HB 1 won't stop bad actors determined to cause mayhem," the Herald's editorial board argues. "It will create bad actors, then let them off the hook. Like Stand Your Ground, it will have deadly consequences — and as history has shown, Black and Brown people will likely pay the price."

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