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Protesters confronting police in riot gear in May 2020 in Miami, Florida, during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd. Photo: Adam Delguidice/AFP via Getty Images

Florida state lawmakers sent a bill that stiffens penalties against violent protesters to Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) desk on Thursday, according to AP.

Why it matters: Opponents say the bill seeks to curtail the Black Lives Matter movement and the right to free speech and peaceably assemble. It comes amid the ongoing trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd, which set off waves of protests across the country last summer.

  • It also comes after protests erupted this week in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center after a police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop near Minneapolis.

What they're saying: “This legislation strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble, while ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protest to cause violence in our communities will be punished,” DeSantis said in a statement, according to AP.

The ACLU of Florida called the bill "racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic, plain and simple."

  • "The bill was purposely designed to embolden the disparate police treatment we have seen over and over again directed towards Black and brown people who are exercising their constitutional right to protest," said Micah Kubic, the executive director fo the ACLU of Florida.

The big picture: If signed by DeSantis, the bill, which had been debated by lawmakers for weeks, would enhance penalties for crimes committed during a "riot" and would allow authorities to hold arrested protesters until a first court appearance, according to AP.

  • It would establish new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration while making it a second-degree felony to destroy or deface any object that commemorates historical people or events, which would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
  • It would also limit the powers of local governments to reduce their law enforcement budgets.

Go deeper

Updated Apr 15, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Officer Kim Potter arrested, charged with manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

Kim Potter's booking photos. Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Kim Potter, the former police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, was released on a $100,000 bond on Wednesday, Hennepin County jail records show.

Why it matters: Sunday's shooting of the 20-year-old Black man in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last year, has reinvigorated Black Lives Matter protests and led to three consecutive nights of unrest.

Updated Apr 15, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Daunte Wright protests reignite debate over police response to unrest

Police in riot gear toss a projectile at protesters in Brooklyn Park on April 11. Photo: Christopher Mark Juhn/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ongoing protests over Daunte Wright's death have renewed debate over the tactics police use to control crowds and respond to civil unrest.

Driving the news: Hundreds of demonstrators gathered for a fourth straight night in Brooklyn Center Wednesday. Law enforcement used flash-bang grenades and pepper balls to disperse the crowd as a 10 p.m. curfew set in.

The state of play: Law enforcement officials say the tactics are necessary to restore order and protect residents and property when peaceful protests begin to devolve, but activists in Minnesota and beyond say the "militarized" response is overly aggressive, dangerous and actually risks inciting more violence.

Updated Apr 15, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: 4th night of Twin Cities protests after Daunte Wright shooting

Demonstrators protesting the April 11 death of Daunte Wright use umbrellas for protection from pepper spray and rubber bullets outside the Brooklyn Center police station on April 14.

Brooklyn Center officials imposed a curfew for a fourth straight day Wednesday, as law enforcement and demonstrators protesting the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright faced off into the night.

The big picture: The Star Tribune reports the scene was calmer than previous nights, with most protesters leaving by 10:30p.m after an unlawful assembly was declared and dispersal orders issued. Police deployed "occasional gas canisters" and sprayed chemicals at protesters who neared the police station fence, and some demonstrators threw objects, AP notes.