TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1571 into law on Monday, ending the ability of protestors to demonstrate outside of private residences.
According to a statement released by the governor’s office, the bill “will provide a warning” to picketers and protesters outside homes. Arrests will be made “only if the person does not peaceably disperse after the warning.” The charge would be a second-degree misdemeanor.
In the statement sent out, DeSantis focused on how it would affect protests like recent actions outside of the homes of U.S. Supreme Court Justices following the leak of a draft which signaled the end of Roe v. Wade and federal abortion protections, seen for the first time on May 2.
“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 statement. “This bill will provide protection to those living in residential communities and I am glad to sign it into law.”
While the SCOTUS leak, and subsequent protests, are a more recent example, Florida lawmakers cited “targeted protests” at the homes of U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both of Florida, as well as picketers at the home of a Brevard County school official who faced protests due to her mask position related to COVID-19.
State Sen. Keith Perry, a sponsor of the bill, previously said there should be a difference between a dwelling – which the bill defines as a residence – and a public space when it comes to protests.
During legislative testimony at hearings reviewing the bill’s language in the 2022 legislative session, Lt. Mike Crabb of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office told lawmakers that the law would draw a line in the sand when it came to protests at private homes. Crabb referred to protests outside the home of Brian Laundrie’s parents as well.
The Petito case was in the national eye for several months, and the Laundrie home had drawn the attention of multiple protestors.
“So, Brian Laundrie, the murderer from Southwest Florida had days and days of protest at his house, his parents’ house,” Crabb said in February. “He’s not an elected official, his parents weren’t an elected official but that wasn’t right either. Whether, whatever side you’re on, it gives you protection, it’s not just for an elected official.”
The new law signed by DeSantis takes effect on Oct. 1.