On Wednesday, the governor said, “Just to remind potential looters … you never know what you’re walking into. People have a right to defend their property. This part of Florida, you got a lot of advocates and proponents of the Second Amendment”.
“And I’ve seen signs in different people’s yards in the past after these disasters and I would say it’s probably here, ‘you loot we shoot’. You never know what’s behind that door,” he added.
Attorney General Ashley Moody defended those remarks on Fox Business on Friday, saying: “This is a law and order state. We’ll enforce the law.”
On 30 August, Mr DeSantis said: “There are reports of people trying to loot down in Steinhatchiee.”
“I’ve told all of our personnel at the state level … protect people’s property and we are not going to tolerate any looting in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” he added. “It’s just ridiculous that you would try to do something like that, on the heels of an almost category four hurricane hitting this community.”
“If you go break into somebody’s house, and you’re trying to loot. These are people that are going to be able to defend themselves and their families so I would not do it,” the governor warned. “We are going to hold you accountable from a law enforcement perspective at a minimum and it could even be worse than that, depending on what’s behind that door. So let’s all band together and lift people up and not try to take advantage of a difficult situation.”
Ms Moody went on to say that “the reason why we have so few deaths is because folks in Florida heeded the warnings to evacuate when they were told to do so by local authorities”.
“When people leave, they have to trust that their property is going to be safe because of our approach to law and order,” she added. “I’ve had discussions with all of the state attorneys that have been involved with the jurisdictions and the storm. They are committed to ensuring that if people loot and take advantage of folks in their time of need, they will be held accountable.”
“Holding them during that pre-trial detention period is so important,” Ms Moody told Fox Business. “If they get back out, they go right back to the areas that have been affected. hat is dangerous for our first responders [who] are trying to manage things on the ground, to have them distracted like that.”
“This is a way that Florida stands out from other states around the nation. We hold people accountable, and we enforce the law. It’s very easy to do if you’re committed to it,” she said. “And I would suggest other leaders and other states take a look at how they’re approaching criminal justice. They might see the strength of their cities and their states improve.”