Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

During a peaceful protest over the killing of George Floyd, a demonstrator holds her hands up while kneeling in front of police officers on June 1, 2020 in Anaheim, California. (Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

During a peaceful protest over the killing of George Floyd, a demonstrator holds her hands up while kneeling in front of police officers on June 1, 2020 in Anaheim, California. (Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

GOP Bill That 'Does Nothing But Criminalize Peaceful Protest' Advances in Florida Legislature

"We know the true nature of this bill and its origins," said the ACLU of Florida. "It is not about public safety, but about criminalizing peaceful protesters advocating for racial justice."

Kenny Stancil

Denouncing the advancement of House Bill 1 in the Florida legislature on Wednesday, the state's ACLU chapter warned that if signed into law, the undemocratic anti-protest bill pushed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis would "silence and criminalize" people who want to exercise their First Amendment rights to peacefully advocate for social change.

"The right to peacefully assemble and protest is protected by the First Amendment and has been a profoundly important way for generation after generation to effect positive change throughout the history of our country."
—Micah Kubic, ACLU of Florida

"This bill does nothing but criminalize peaceful protest, silence dissent, and inhibit Floridians from seeking to influence how our state leaders make decisions about our lives," Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in response to the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee's vote to pass HB1.

"We know the true nature of this bill and its origins," said Kubic. "We know that it is not about public safety, but about criminalizing peaceful protesters advocating for racial justice."

As Common Dreams reported earlier this year, progressives have been sounding the alarm that Republican lawmakers in multiple states are exploiting the deadly January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters to push for anti-protest bills, which critics say have nothing to do with stemming the tide of far-right extremism and everything to do with suppressing left-wing dissent and quashing protests against police brutality, fossil fuel pipelines, and more.

In Florida, Trump ally DeSantis promoted HB1 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 484—punitive proposals that critics say are meant to repress Black Lives Matter and other social justice protests—on January 6, "the same day insurrectionists were storming the Capitol," as journalist Christopher Cook pointed out earlier this year in a critique of what he called the "righteous bipartisan weaponizing of this crisis."

As journalist Iliana Hagenah wrote at the time, DeSantis used the riots in Washington, D.C., attended by several neo-Confederates, as a pretext to "make taking down Confederate statues a felony" in Florida.

According to The Intercept's Alleen Brown and Akela Lacy, the GOP's new anti-protest bills reflect an attempt to "rebrand" earlier anti-democratic efforts to crack down on dissent, taking advantage of outrage over the right-wing attack on the Capitol to undermine demonstrations for progressive causes.

Kubic called it "disappointing to see that despite widespread and diverse opposition to this bill, the committee advanced Gov. DeSantis' undemocratic anti-protest proposal."

"The right to peacefully assemble and protest is protected by the First Amendment and has been a profoundly important way for generation after generation to effect positive change throughout the history of our country," he said, adding: "Legislators should stop this bill instead of compromising the rights of Floridians for political gain."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Al Jazeera Preparing ICC 'War Crimes' Case Against Israel for Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

"Targeting war correspondents, or journalists working in war zones or occupied territories by killing or physically assaulting them, is a war crime," the network says.

Andrea Germanos ·


Rapid Response Protests Planned to Stop Biden From 'Screwing Up' Student Debt Relief

"$10K, no way," said organizers. "Don't go small, cancel it all!"

Julia Conley ·


G7 Fossil Fuel Funding Pledge a 'Massive Win,' Say Climate Groups

Campaigners say "promises should now urgently be turned into action."

Jake Johnson ·


'This Is Bullsh*t': Instead of Canceling, Abbott Will Deliver Video Speech to NRA

Headlines suggested the Texas governor was "skipping" the group's convention, but in fact he will give a prerecorded address just days after the Uvalde massacre that left 19 children dead.

Jake Johnson ·


Texas Democrat Demands Federal Probe of Police Response to Uvalde Shooting

"State officials have provided conflicting accounts that are at odds with those provided by witnesses," said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo