Florida's New Law Against Blocking Roads During Protests Already Being Ignored By Cops Policing Protests The Governor Supports

from the behold-the-discretion-being-exercised-by-law-enforcement dept

Just a few months ago, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a broadly-written anti-protest bill that, among other things, criminalized the act of participating in a protest if other protesters did illegal things. It also criminalized the blocking of traffic and roadways by protesters, something that was already illegal but now was super-illegal with enhanced punishments that made this act a felony.

This was the Florida legislature’s response to anti-police violence and Black Lives Matters protests in the state — protests that became far more frequent and intense following the killing of Minnesota resident George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Failing (perhaps deliberately) to recognize a lighter law enforcement touch was needed to regain the trust of the public, DeSantis and likeminded legislators doubled down, making the very act of protesting police violence an opportunity to be hit with felony charges.

The new law is in the news because it very much appears it won’t be enforced equitably. Miami’s Local 10 wants to know why the new law wasn’t deployed to stop Cuban solidarity protesters from blocking highways during recent demonstrations.

“All of a sudden you have people out there shutting down a highway. They start to do that, there needs to be swift penalties.”

Those were Gov. Ron DeSantis’ words back in April when he signed a controversial anti-riot bill.

On Tuesday?

“I think people understand the difference between going out and peacefully assembling, which is obviously people’s constitutional right,” DeSantis said on a day when South Floridians stood in solidarity with Cuban citizens’ protests by taking to the Palmetto Expressway and closing it down for hours.

The Associated Press also amplified questions about this apparent divergence from a law supposedly desperately needed to keep protests from shutting down cities.

Demonstrators on Tuesday in Miami, Tampa and Orlando temporarily blocked busy roads, chanting support for the Cubans who had taken to the streets in the communist nation Sunday to air grievances about poor economic conditions and other issues.

“When they protest for regime change, which aligns with the governor’s political viewpoint … you see no enforcement from law enforcement,” said Michael Sampson, who co-founded the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, one of many groups that sprung up under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The governor had no real explanation for why officers were not only not arresting people for blocking roads, but waving people through police lines so they could head up ramps to access the highways they would soon be blocking. The only comment DeSantis offered was that this protest wasn’t the kind of protest he felt needed to be shut down.

During a visit to Miami on Tuesday, DeSantis said the demonstrations in South Florida were “fundamentally different than what we saw last summer.”

The statement made by Christina Pushaw, the governor’s spokesperson, wasn’t any better.

“The legislation protects First Amendment freedoms, while ensuring that law enforcement professionals are empowered to use their discretion to maintain public safety,” Pushaw said. “The Governor has always urged all Floridians exercising their right to protest, to make their voices heard peacefully and lawfully.”

Well, ok then. I guess we’ll see what happens the next time BLM protesters take to the streets and block a few of them off. If DeSantis doesn’t want to look like he only respects the rights of people he agrees with, he’ll need to keep cops from exercising their discretion and arresting people protesting against unequal treatment by law enforcement.

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Comments on “Florida's New Law Against Blocking Roads During Protests Already Being Ignored By Cops Policing Protests The Governor Supports”

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44 Comments

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

On the one hand it is another ‘Oh, It must be another day ending in Y’ story it happens to often, on the other hand it’s still worthwhile to point out such gross hypocrisy to make it harder for it to be normalized as ‘just another moment of hypocrisy, put it on the pile and wait for the next one’.

Just because something may be expected to happen doesn’t mean it should be.

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David says:

You shouldn't go into politics.

If DeSantis doesn’t want to look like he only respects the rights of people he agrees with,

Why would he not want that look? That’s what gets the votes when you are running on a grievance platform. And make no mistake, the ultra-conservative and current Republican platform definitely is "if we let Those People™ continue thinking they have the same rights as we™ do, it will destroy the American Way of Life™".

Rights like demonstrating, voting, working, residing, living and so on.

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hij (profile) says:

He does want to look that way

If DeSantis doesn’t want to look like he only respects the rights of people he agrees with, he’ll need to keep cops from exercising their discretion and arresting people protesting against unequal treatment by law enforcement.

It looks quite clear that Gov DeSantis has ambitions to run for national office as his next step up the political ladder. Political discourse has degenerated to the point where there is no penalty for unequal treatment nor for standing on any kind of consistent set of principles other than taking care of his own. In fact, his Party has a special word, RINO, for anybody who does such a thing.

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Darkness Of Course (profile) says:

Bigoted Florida Man is Governor

First, Florida is a Slave State. They joyfully entered into the Traitor’s War for Slavery. They feel, and always have, that Black people don’t have rights, because they are property.

This, is how they have always been. Quit expecting them to raise the bar, but focus on whether they are digging so it can go lower.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Time for a name change?

Before vaccines became available this year, DeSantis gained a lot of credit with the rational (pre-Trump) Right with his Covid management– protecting the vulnerable while keeping as much of the State open as possible, especially the schools. Despite all the scare headlines, Florida was in the respectable middle in State mortality rates. But DeSantis’s recent pandering to anti-vaxxers ( eg by prohibiting cruise lines from excluding the unvaccinated) is perverse and inexcusable.

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Hugo S Cunningham (profile) says:

DeSantis renders his own law unConstitutional?

I favor laws against trapping thousands of innocent motorists on limited-access highways, but such laws have to be enforced against all parties. IANAL, but it would seem a Federal judge has ample moral justification for declaring DeSantis’s law unConstitutional.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: DeSantis renders his own law unConstitutional?

He does seem to have made clear that the goal and implementation of the law was not content neutral which as I understand is kind of a big deal when it comes to laws potentially impacting first amendment protected activity, so it will be interesting to see if someone takes that angle.

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David says:

Re: Re: Re: Equal opportunity

Homicide? No.

For killing someone with premeditation after announcing plans to do so? It will be tricky to convince a court that this doesn’t count as homicide.

The U.S. may be the nation of motorists but I don’t think any state has "stand your asphalt" laws on the books that would allow motorists to intentionally drive over pedestrians constricting your car’s freedom of movement.

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Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Equal opportunity

I don’t think any state has "stand your asphalt" laws on the books that would allow motorists to intentionally drive over pedestrians constricting your car’s freedom of movement

Perhaps you are not familiar with Florida’s new S:870.07 created by SB1 (2021). The not very subtly concealed intent was that people should run over protesters having darker complexions. The effect is that someone in Florida running over people, such as Fields did in Charlottesville, should no longer be subject to damages.

I imagine that Florida is a leader on this. It was the most urgent bill for the 2021 legislative session, running even in front of the bill allowing the governor to issue an emergency decree of “non-emergency” to prevent local health regulation.

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Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Equal opportunity

Not likely.
I do my best to reschedule when selfish self righteous fucks take to the streets and violate law..
but don’t you fucking dare threaten me. You’re more likely to be shot than run over.

If people weren’t in the street they wouldn’t get run over.
If they didn’t threaten law abiding people they wouldn’t get run over.

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David says:

Re: Re: Re: Equal opportunity

Giving self-entitled human scum with a disregard for others a political platform was a mistake even before the Republican Party explicitly chose to trade in their soul for votes with the "Southern Strategy". Figuring out how to make the results of democracy significantly different from mob rule is an ongoing experiment.

Democracy empowers "silent minorities" which tends to be a good thing compared to mob dynamics. However, demagoguery is comparatively successful at shifting the balance back towards the loudmouths, and dealing with that in a convincing manner remains problematic, particularly when major players stop acting in good faith.

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Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Equal opportunity

Not likely.
I do my best to reschedule when selfish self righteous fucks take to the streets and violate law..
but don’t you fucking dare threaten me. You’re more likely to be shot than run over.

If people weren’t in the street they wouldn’t get run over.
If they didn’t threaten law abiding people they wouldn’t get run over.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Equal opportunity

"Get out of the street or get run over. "

I think that’s one of the more monstrous statements you’ve made here. You are essentially saying that human lives are worth less than your own convenience.

Pro Tip; Dropping a line which has a lower level of humanity in it than what you’ll find in sources like Mein Kampf is not a good look and only brings the message that you are worthy of the same respect you offer others in that statement.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Equal opportunity

"If I did, I’d expect to get into issues with traffic."

Most sensible nations place accountability on the side of the motorist, for one very valid reason; You can’t assume the guy in the middle of the road chose to be there.

A) Person who is sick, drunk, or otherwise not completely in control, trying to find the nearest way to a pharmacy or their home.

B) Impaired people. Not every visually impaired person can afford a seeing-eye dog or has the option to remain indoors all the time.

C) Victims of assault tend not to be too aware of their surroundings except insofar that it allows them to navigate in the general direction of home, hospital or police precinct. Particularly so if they’re running away from someone.

D) Small children. No matter the alertness of the parent, keeping a 5 year old from running after the pet dog or cat isn’t always possible.

Your argument essentially means the driver of a vehicle has the right on his side when s/he plows through a panicking crowd of innocent people trying to run from a serial shooter, riot, fire or collapsing building. At that point your argument is literally at level with reich standards of principles because it advocates a kill-at-will card be given to anyone sitting in a ton of metal propelled at speed.

That said most nations similarly have sensible laws concerning individuals or groups blocking a road outside of non-normal conditions which means the joker trying to hold up traffic while emulating the old Red Flag Act will do so very briefly before the cops toss him in the slammer and he gets hit with steep fines or jail time, depending on the outcome of their actions.

The US alone has the inhumane idea that people’s lives are to be held as disregardable given bad luck and malicious drivers.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Equal opportunity

[Addendum]

A car is literally heavy machinery. Propelling it along a road at speed means you have the same responsibility as a "plinker" out with a rifle. Your first responsibility should be don’t hit other people.

That, at least, is what we’re taught in europe. And if we can’t fulfil that basic requirement our privilege to propel a heavy machine over public land at will is curtailed.

If I needed any more reason to believe the "Party of Personal Accountability" abandoned and sunk that pillar of their policy it would be reading about what the Trump adherents caroled over news where car owners plow through crowds like ISIS terrorists did in europe a few years back.

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