US judge blocks enforcement of Florida ‘anti-riot’ law

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FILE – In this Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 file photo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site in Pembroke Pines, Fla. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has appealed a judge’s ruling that the governor exceeded his authority in ordering school boards not to impose strict mask requirements on students to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The governor’s lawyers took their case Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 to the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that Florida’s new “anti-riot” law championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis as a way to quell violent protests is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

The decision Thursday by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee found the recently enacted law “vague and overbroad” and amounted to an assault on First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly as well as due process protections.

DeSantis can appeal the ruling.

The lawsuit was filed by the NAACP Florida conference, Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward and other groups who argued the law is intended to halt protests by Black people and other minorities.

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