Florida Sheriff Tells People Moving to State Not to 'Vote the Stupid Way You Did Up North'

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd warned new Florida residents not to "vote the stupid way you did up north" during a press conference alongside Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday.

"This is what we enjoy in Florida. This is the Florida we know and love," Judd said as he held up photographs showing residents at Walt Disney World and the beach.

"We're a special place, and there are millions and millions of people who like to come here. And quite frankly, we like to have them here. So we only want to share one thing as you move in hundreds a day: Welcome to Florida. But don't register to vote and vote the stupid way you did up north, you'll get what they got," the sheriff added, prompting applause from the group of law enforcement officers, lawmakers and state officials gathered.

Judd's remarks were made moments before DeSantis signed the state's controversial "anti-riot" bill into law. The legislation, which was passed in Florida's GOP-controlled Senate last week, contains several provisions that crack down on protests in the Sunshine State.

The law will now define a "riot" as a public disturbance involving three or more people "acting with the common intent to assist each other in violent and disorderly conduct" that results in injury to another person, damage to property, or "imminent" danger of injury or damage.

The 61-page bill established new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration and enhanced penalties for crimes committed during a riot. It will also authorities to hold arrested protesters without bail until their first court appearance, as well as grant civil immunity to those who drive into protesters who are blocking a road.

Opponents of the legislation have argued it will have a chilling effect on all forms of protest in the state and claim it is a violation of the First Amendment.

In a statement released Monday, Democratic agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried, a potential challenger to DeSantis in 2022, said the law "helps no one" and it spreads the message that "if you disagree with him, you will be silenced."

DeSantis touted the law as "the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country" during Monday's press conference. The new law will go into effect immediately.

"If you riot, loot, harm others, particularly law enforcement, you're going to jail," DeSantis said. "We're not going to end up like Portland."

Judd also held up photographs illustrating a "peaceful protest" and a "riot."

"Pay attention. We've got a new law," he said as he held up the two pictures. "And we're going to use it if you make us."

Newsweek reached out to the Polk County Sheriff's Office for additional comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.

florida sheriff anti riot bill signing
A Pinellas County Sheriff Deputy is parked outside the County Supervisor of Elections Office on October 25, 2020 in St Petersburg, Florida. On Monday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told new residents not to "vote the stupid way you did up north." Octavio Jones/Getty Images