JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Community organizations rallied Saturday at Jacksonville’s City Hall, calling on city leaders to speak out against “anti-mob” legislation proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
It’s an ongoing fight over House Bill 1, which would increase penalties for violent protests in Florida.
Florida is now one of 25 states where Republican leaders are pushing for similar legislation.
Organizations against its passing say they need to hear where city leaders stand on this.
News4Jax sent an email Friday to the Mayor’s Office and reached out again Saturday, asking where Mayor Lenny Curry stands on HB1, but we haven’t heard back.
“Last year, he said he praises protests -- him and the sheriff both praised the protests that were out here peacefully assembling thousands of people, so now is the time to also take a stand and speak out against this legislation,” said Mike Sampson, an organizer with the Jacksonville Community Action Committee.
The controversial proposal is pitting those who people believe First Amendment rights are being threatened against others who believe the increased penalties are a way to combat public disorder.
The bill would remove liability for drivers who strike protesters during a march and would make it a felony to participate in a protest where property is damaged or where people are harassed at public accommodations like restaurants.
Anyone throwing objects at law enforcement would face six months in jail.
Those arrested during protests would be denied bail before initial court hearings.
And those who organized or funded violent protests would be treated as members of an organized crime group.
Ben Frazier, CEO of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, said hearing from the mayor will answer a lot of questions.
“He has an opportunity to prove that he stands up for all the people. That this is in fact, according to his motto, one city and one Jacksonville. That is the question that only the mayor can answer,” Frazier said. “We’re asking him not to leave 280,000 Black people behind. This is racist legislation; the mayor should recognize that, and he should stand up against it.”
Groups like Florida Rising and the JCAC are planning to protest the bill on March 2, the first day of Florida’s legislative session.