ORLANDO, Fla. – A social justice group has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis two days after he signed a bill to create tougher penalties for people who participate in violent protests.
Court records show that the nonprofit group Legacy Entertainment & Arts Foundation filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Orlando federal court.
It argues the new law violates free speech and due process rights.
The so-called anti-riot bill that DeSantis signed on Monday was a response to nationwide demonstrations that occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
During a news conference Monday, the governor said the new law does multiple things, including providing stiffer penalties for those arrested during riots and holding local governments accountable if they order police to stand down during protests that turn chaotic.
According to the governor, this will allow people to sue local governments for injuries or property damage sustained during these types of incidents.
DeSantis said the law also prevents local governments from defunding law enforcement agencies, and said the idea to do so is “insane.”
“It allows the state to stop cities from cutting funding to police and puts local government on the hook if they ask police to stand down,” the governor said.
Law enforcement officials who spoke at Monday’s news conference said they fully supported peaceful protests, but said this legislation was important to prevent violent incidents.
DeSantis spokesman Cody McCloud said the governor’s office will firmly defend the legal merits of the new law.