Florida Governor Threatens to Withhold State Funds From Cities That Slash Police Budgets

September 21, 2020 Updated: September 21, 2020

Florida’s governor on Monday released proposed legislation that includes withholding state funding from cities that slash police budgets and upping penalties for those participating in protests that turn violent.

“Recently in our country we have seen attacks on law enforcement, we’ve seen disorder and tumult in many cities,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a press conference.

According to a summary DeSantis released, one bill he’s proposing “prohibits state grants or aid to any local government that slashes the budget for law enforcement services.”

The bill is grouped under measures DeSantis says are meant to protect citizens and taxpayers and was labeled “No ‘Defund the Police’ Permitted.”

A major goal of the Black Lives Matter movement, and other activists, is defunding the police, or slashing funding to police departments.

Over a dozen cities in the United States over the summer approved cutting police funding, including New York City, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Others have rejected efforts to defund the police.

No cities in Florida appear to have approved cuts to police funding.

The movement is also unpopular in the Rust Belt.

Florida is a trifecta state; Republicans hold the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Florida’s Legislature won’t begin its annual 60-day session until March 2021, so it’s somewhat unusual for the governor to announce a legislative proposal so far in advance. But DeSantis has the support of incoming Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson and House Speaker-designate Chris Sprowls, both Republicans, along with local law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

Epoch Times Photo
Police in riot gear face off with demonstrators in Miami, Fla., May 30, 2020. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

The proposed bills received criticism from Democrats.

“The governor is attaching himself to Donald Trump’s propaganda and manufacturing a non-existent law and order crisis in Florida,” said Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson. “It’s political fearmongering to bolster a president’s re-election bid.”

“Under this, those ‘Patriots’ involved in the Boston tea party would be put in jail for over a year with no chance of Bail! I was in the streets with pots/pans when the Heat won the championship I was in the streets with my brothers/sisters who challenged oppressive regimes,” House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee said in a statement.

“This proposal doesn’t take into consideration a person’s intent. Under this proposal, my friends and I are going to be charged with a felony and given no bail when we come together to beat our pots and pans in the streets to celebrate the Heat winning the Championship.”

The lawmaker appeared to be commenting on some of the other proposed bills, which included restrictions on assemblies that lead to damage to property or injury to other persons, obstructing roadways, toppling monuments, and harassment.

Another proposal would eliminate bail or bond until the first appearance in court if the person was charged with a crime related to participating in a violent or disorderly assembly.

DeSantis pointed to the ongoing rioting in Portland, where a number of people have been arrested only for prosecutors to decline to charge them.

“They get their mugshot taken and then they get released, and it’s like a carousel. On and on it goes. Now that’s not going to happen here in Florida,” DeSantis said.

“We will always stand with our men and women in uniform who keep our communities safe,” the governor said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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