A state in the US has drafted controversial laws that would allow people to shoot looters and run over protesters who block traffic.
A state in the US has drafted controversial laws that would allow people to shoot looters and run over protesters who block traffic.

State to allow shooting of looters

Florida's governor has drafted "anti-mob" legislation to expand already controversial Stand Your Ground laws - to allow people to shoot looters, according to a report.

A draft of Governor Ron DeSantis' proposed bill expands the list of "forcible felonies" under Florida's self-defence law to include criminal mischief causing "interruption or impairment" of a business, according to the Miami Herald, which obtained a copy through a records request.

It also specifically allows force against those looting, which the draft defines as burglary within 500 feet (150 metres) of a "violent or disorderly assembly".

Mr DeSantis also wants to make it a third-degree felony to block traffic during a protest - and offer immunity to drivers who accidentally kill or injure protesters who do so, according to the Herald.

Numerous other sections enhance criminal penalties for people involved in "violent or disorderly assemblies," and withholds state funds from local governments that cut law enforcement funding, the report said.

Mr DeSantis has long threatened to introduce the "strongest pro-law enforcement, anti-rioting, anti-looting legislation anywhere in the country" - even though the Sunshine State has not been a hub of violent protests.

While a draft version of the bill was circulated to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, it has not been filed in either the House or Senate - but has already sparked outrage, the paper said.

"It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions," Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor who had handled Stand Your Ground cases, told the paper.

"It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime - and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly."

Former Miami-Dade prosecutor Aubrey Webb warned that the draft was far too vague and could lead to justifiable deaths after minor infractions.

"It dangerously gives armed private citizens power to kill as they subjectively determine what constitutes 'criminal mischief' that interferes with a business," Mr Webb told the Miami paper.

"Someone graffiti-ing 'Black Lives Matter' on a wall? Urinating behind a dumpster? Blocking an entrance? The Boston Tea Party members would have been lawfully shot under Florida's law by the British East India Tea Company."

Civil rights attorney Melba Pearson warned that the proposals would "have a chilling effect on free speech". "These are not mobs running around the street. People are using their First Amendment rights. This is a democracy," she told the paper.

Mr DeSantis' office did not respond to the Herald's requests for comment.

This article originally appeared on New York Post and was reproduced with permission

Originally published as State to allow shooting of looters


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