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Group gathers to protest Florida legislation aimed at protesting

Posted at 6:04 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 18:04:44-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — About 10 people took a stand against a bill aiming to crack down on violent protests in the state Thursday. They argued it violates their freedom of speech. The debate is swirling around Florida House Bill 1 and its companion legislation Senate Bill 484.

Last week, the bill passed in a House subcommittee. If passed, it will limit the local government's ability to redirect funds from the police to social programs, turn some misdemeanors related to protests into felonies, and make destroying any monument a felony.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow spoke at the protest. He said many of the items in the bill already exist.

"If people are engaging in property violence, are there not laws in place? There are. Why do we really need a new law? What is it aimed at? It's aimed at making sure people don't show up. It's making sure when times get tough, the people in dissent are silent. That's the issue here," said Commissioner Matlow.

House Bill 1 has moved on to the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. The identical bill in the Senate has yet to be heard.