The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy. But it is also unfortunately true that governments and police have violated this right— by using mass arrests, illegal force, the criminalization of protest, and other means intended to thwart the right to free public expression, assembly, and association.
On April 19, 2021, Gov. DeSantis signed a controversial anti-peaceful-protest bill into law, HB1. Here’s what the law does:
- Makes protesting a felony which could disenfranchise voter rights
- A “protest” of 9 or more people blocking a road can be considered “aggravated rioting” and a second degree felony.
- Protects people who kill or harm protestors from being sued by victims
- Denies protestors bail
- You could get 15 years for damaging a confederate statue
- Allows the state to override municipalities that decrease police funding
You still have a constitutionally protected right to protest, peacefully assemble, and petition the government with your grievances. Exercising these rights can be challenging, especially when demonstrations and other forms of expression are met with violent opposition. But knowing your rights is the most powerful weapon you have against police abuse. Please read: Revised Know Your Rights - Demonstrations and Protests.
The Black Collective is hosting Black Lives Canvassing on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6PM. They are going door to door to educate Black communities across the state on the impacts of HB1 on their everyday lives and their rights. To volunteer, sign up here. COVID precautions will be taken so please wear a mask.