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Palm Beach County activists and leaders react to HB1 'anti-riot bill'

Posted at 10:01 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 22:02:23-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Monday signed HB1 the so-called "anti-riot" bill into law, which places tougher penalties on protesters who engage in violent rallies, and in south Florida, it’s getting a mixed reaction.

“It’s a constitutionally unjust bill in my opinion,” David Rae said.

Rae has dedicated much of the last year speaking out against social injustice.

“It sucks to be unseen, and I think that’s the whole reason why protesting is the most American form of right in action,” he said.

WPTV spoke with him and organizer Jai Allen-Ible on Monday shortly after Gov. DeSantis signed HB1 into law.

“For me, it’s like an abuse of power and it is inconsiderate,” Allen-Ible said. “It is almost a slap in the face.”

The new law, which takes effect immediately, punishes protesters who take part in violent and disorderly demonstrations in Florida.

“The thing that upsets me is if you are saying that there are infiltrators, you make a law that makes it easy for someone to infiltrate, and as soon as someone does the organizers get blamed for their actions,” Rae said.

It also allows local police agencies to challenge budgets, prevents local governments from defunding law enforcement agencies, and opens cities up to liability for poor riot control.

“We love this bill,” John Kazanjian said.

Kazanjian is the president of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association; he believes the new law will make rioters think twice.

“Especially in Florida, if I get caught, If I throw a brick at a cop hit him in the head, or kill him, I’m going to jail for a long time,” he said.

For Rae and Allen-Ible they say they will continue to organize and push for change.

“I don’t hear any language to talk about us, or what we’ve gone through as a community,” Rae said.