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Tallahassee Mayor Critiques Anti-Protest Bill

Man in a grey suit standing at a podium.
Tom Flanigan
/
Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey

Mayor John Dailey calls the state legislative proposal an "infringement" on local home rule authority.

A bill to ramp up the punishment for anyone involved in protests that get out of hand is still a legislative work-in-progress in Tallahassee. But the city’s mayor is just one of many opponents who insist the basic premise of the bills is flawed.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey called the so-called “anti-riot” legislation unnecessary. Even in his town, which saw protestors arrested in once incident after refusing to disperse as ordered by police.

“We experience more protests, marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations than any other city in the state. And we are prepared to address acts of violence in our city,” Dailey said.

Dailey added the current state bills as written would be a serious infringement of local government home rule authority. Carrie Boyd with the Southern Poverty Law Center echoed the mayor’s concerns.

“We would submit that this bill is nothing more than an attempt to chill free speech and undermine local control of our governments.”

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill that could mean felony charges for anyone attending a protest police deemed “violent”. The House is slated to hear the bill this week on the floor. A Senate companion measure has not been heard in any committee.

Corrected: March 25, 2021 at 8:35 AM EDT
The original version of this story stated both the House and Senate versions of the bill are slated for chamber votes. Only the House version of the bill has reached that chamber's floor. The Senate version of the measure has not been heard in any committee.