The Palm Beach Post summarizes it like so,
"Among many things, the “Combating Public Disorder” law:
- Allows the state to circumvent local authority and punish municipalities that attempt to reduce or eliminate funding for law enforcement
- Allow businesses damaged or destroyed in lootings or riots to sue municipalities that don’t provide law enforcement protection
- Increases legal charges for people who assault anyone, particularly law enforcement, or damage property during a riot
- Revises the prohibition on obstructing traffic by standing on the street
- Prohibits protesters from using or threatening to use imminent force against another person
- Requires a person arrested for rioting to be held in custody until their first appearance in court
- And prohibits defacing, injuring or damaging a memorial or historic property, including flags"
The politics behind this bill are nasty, but I’m more concerned about the effects of the law itself than the politics behind it.
One grip of mine is the state’s new stranglehold on the municipalities’ law enforcement budgets. Whenever a municipality tries to reduce or eliminate law enforcement expenses, a state attorney or a member of the municipal governing body may petition the executive branch of the state (a commission consisting of the Governor and his Cabinet, all elected statewide) to modify the municipality’s law enforcement budget. Does that sound like a conflict of interest to you?
I think it will prevent cost cutting measures at a local level. I don’t think the state needs to preempt the municipality’s budget; the state has other, more appropriate tools in the event that some particular municipality actually does shirk its law enforcement duty. For example declaring a state of emergency and sending in the guard, or in the less extreme, leveraging other sources of income. The civil liability provision does a great deal to dissuade a municipality from neglecting its law enforcement duties, at least during a riot. If the municipality wants to divert some police funding to firefighting, EMS, or some novel mental health response team, I don’t see why the state should step in.
I disagree with introducing a victim’s conviction for rioting as an affirmative defense in civil suits for personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage. Self defense is already an affirmative defense, so the only thing I see happening is further punishing rioters (or their next of kin) for participating in a riot by denying relief in civil court. Maybe I’m just not understanding how that would work.
I don’t think it is wise to enter a statutory requirement that people arrested for various riot-related crimes remain incarcerated until the bail hearing. The determination to hold in custody or issue a citation, at least for misdemeanors, should made by the professional judgement of local police, who necessarily have limited resources and are able to react to individual circumstances.
As written the law requires municipalities to do their best to arrest all rioters and hold them all in custody until bail is set. Any town with less holding capacity than rioters will find it impossible to comply with those directives. I’m not in favor of impossible laws.
I don’t see any problem with the changes to the crime of obstructing public streets, highways, and roads; the reclassification of assault and burglary as more severe crimes during a riot; the new crime of “mob intimidation”, which basically reads like coercion by two or more people; harsher sentencing for people convicted of battery upon a law enforcement officer; vandalism of memorials or historic property >$200 being reclassified as a third degree felony; the new crime of doxxing; the new definitions of affrays, riots, aggrevated riots, inciting a riot, and aggrevated inciting a riot; and finally harsher sentencing for grave robbers during a riot.
So, there are my opinions. What are yours?