On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning protests outside of private property, which outlaws any demonstrations outside of a resident’s home in Florida. Opponents to the bill claim the ban violates the first amendment of the Constitution, which protects citizens’ right to free speech.
Acts of protest or picketing outside Florida private properties are deemed a second-degree misdemeanor. Violators of the law will receive a warning, and if they refuse to stop, can receive up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
DeSantis signed the bill to prevent protests similar to the current ones in Washington D.C, where abortion rights activists have been demonstrating their cause in front of United States Supreme court justices’ houses after the draft leak in relation to a decision about overturning Roe v. Wade. American citizens rallied outside of lawmakers’ homes; cheering, protesting, waving signs and speaking out against the potential outlawing of abortion. Desantis has since released a statement, where he references the protestors as “unruly mobs,” and signed the bill in order to protect Florida residents. So far, all protests have been peaceful and have stayed within protesting laws, and the White House allows the protests to continue as long as they remain peaceful.
The bill, set to go into effect on Oct. 1, has caused Floridians and opposers nationwide to fear for their personal rights to protest and speak their opinion. This bill has followed many other controversial bills DeSantis has recently signed. DeSantis has worked to restrict topics in Florida education and signed a bill this month mandating lessons on communist regimes. Last year, DeSantis regulated the learning of critical race theory in schools, as well as the use of textbooks that did not align with Florida standards. The reasons for the bills are laid out in a statement from DeSantis’ office.