DeSantis targets protests outside homes


File photo: Florida Gov. Ron DeSanti, Feb. 24, 2022. [AP Photo/John Raoux, File]

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Posted May 17, 2022 |

Gov. Ron DeSantis pointed Monday to abortion-rights protests outside the houses of U.S. Supreme Court justices as he announced signing a measure intended to prevent picketing and protests outside people’s homes. The bill (HB 1571), which was approved by state lawmakers in March and takes effect Oct. 1, will make it illegal to protest outside a person’s home “with the intent to harass or disturb that person in his or her dwelling.”

The bill will allow law-enforcement officers to charge people with second-degree misdemeanors if they do not peaceably disperse after being warned about protesting. “Sending unruly mobs to private residences, like we have seen with the angry crowds in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices, is inappropriate,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.

Protests have occurred outside the homes of justices following the leak of a draft court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. In Florida, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Crabb told a Senate committee in January about protests outside the North Port home of the parents of Brian Laundrie, who murdered his fiancee, Gabby Petito, in August before his body was later found along with a confession to the killing.

In February, Orange County Sheriff John Mina told a House panel about a group of an estimated 200 protesters who staged protests outside a residence in Windermere owned by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Chauvin was later convicted of killing Floyd. The death sparked nationwide protests over racial inequities in policing.