Judge blocks Florida ‘anti-riot’ law

A federal judge in Florida blocked enforcement of the “anti-riot” law the state enacted in the wake of last year’s racial justice protests, calling it overbroad and unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker granted a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April.

The bill, HB1, defines a riot in a way that Walker said is vague and could be used to assault constitutionally protected free speech.

“If this Court does not enjoin the statute’s enforcement, the lawless actions of a few rogue individuals could effectively criminalize the protected speech of hundreds, if not thousands, of law-abiding Floridians,” Walker wrote. “This violates the First Amendment.”

The bill was proposed and passed after last summer’s protests across the country following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin.

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