Joe Henderson: Cuban demonstrations in Miami highlight flaws in anti-riot bill
Image via AP.

cuban miami protest
Blocking a roadway in protest is supposed to get you arrested under the new law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. It didn't seem to apply, though, when protesters in Miami blocked a major thoroughfare in support of Cuban oppression.

Let’s make one thing clear: The protests over Cuba’s authoritarian government are righteous. People need a voice against oppression, and often that involves taking to the streets.

We saw that in South Florida this week. Thousands marched in support of the Cuban people and their battle for freedom from dictators.

However, the demonstrators shut down a portion of the Palmetto Expressway in Miami-Dade County. That’s a major thoroughfare, congested on a good day. And in Florida, thanks to a dubious anti-riot bill championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, that’s against the law.

That’s not me saying that. The Governor made it clear when he signed the bill into law.

“Just think about it, you’re driving home from work and, all of a sudden, you have people out there shutting down a highway, and we worked hard to make sure that didn’t happen in Florida,” DeSantis said.

When pesky newspeople mentioned that, spokesperson Christine Pushaw reacted in her typical dismissive, attack-dog style.

The Left and aligned corporate media love authoritarianism. Therefore, they are FURIOUS that the Governor of Florida didn’t personally drive 500 miles down the state to arrest people for protesting (not rioting) against the communist regime in Cuba,” she tweeted.

Really?

First, the Governor has access to aircraft, and that would be a lot quicker than driving. Besides, the roads might be blocked.

Second, he wouldn’t personally arrest them. He has people to do that for him.

And finally, Pushaw’s response is nonsense. This isn’t about punishing Cuban Americans for supporting their brothers and sisters against a totalitarian regime. It is a reminder about DeSantis’ eagerness to score political points after George Floyd’s murder last year.

That, too, sparked riots. Some streets were blocked, and there was violence, the penalties of which were spelled out succinctly under existing law.

But because protesters marched under the Black Lives Matter banner, bam! DeSantis put on his “I’ll show them” pants, and everybody knows who that law targets. If we had any doubt, the sound of crickets from Tallahassee on this latest outbreak confirmed their suspicions.

Ironically, Pushaw would say the left loves authoritarianism since that’s what the 2020 protests were against. The Floyd murder was the match to the powder keg from Blacks fed up with police harassment. It was a righteous protest, and the Governor should have had a more reasoned response than cracking heads.

And speaking of authoritarianism, DeSantis, at times, has acted just that way. He routinely rails against Washington interference but issues orders overriding local laws about COVID-19 and other matters.

This is just the latest example of situational ethics by a Governor who claims to cherish the U.S. Constitution.

Yes, the First Amendment protects Cuban American protesters. It also applies to people shouting Black Lives Matter in protest against a system they say is racist.

DeSantis embraces the first cause, and good for him. But his actions made it clear he would like to crush the second.

That’s why people call him out just now.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


9 comments

  • DR LARRY MYERS

    July 14, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    Excellent article! Yes politics can be dangerous! yes theater can be dangerous!…………… That is why in the 1970 s after Kent State and the Manson Family love peace flowers all ended……

    Many plays were written in response to VIETNAM………most famous————HAIR!

    BUT THERE WERE LOTS OF MAJOR DRAMATISTS -NOW ALL UNKNOWN……………..ALTHO pAULA vOGEL WHO WENT TO cATHOLIC uNIVERSITY AND IS pULITZER WINNER AND out lesbian —–IS ALSO VERY INFLUENCED BY THOSE WRITERS……… INCLUDING ONE WHO SURVIVED FOR DECADES AND WON TEN OBIE AWARDS——–mARIA iRENE fORNES–i DEDICaTE MY CUBA PROTEST PLAY TO HER-
    “sANTERIA sTREeT tHEATER”

    May Justice prevail along with human rights and FREE SPEECH!!!!

  • Tom J.

    July 14, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    Good point, Mr. Henderson.

  • Tom

    July 14, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    Really? How bout last years violence, looting and non peaceful protest. They peacefully protested a few days ago. Local law enforcement makes arbitrary decisions. I wouldn’t advise road blockage but in totality no comparison. Newsweek & liberal scream looking for example. This ain’t playing in Kissimmee. Spare us. What matters is people’s freedom in which the zGivegnotvhad assured.

    • Jana

      July 15, 2021 at 3:52 pm

      Give us a break, and also learn how to spell

  • Tom

    July 14, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    Really? How bout last years violence, looting and non peaceful protest. They peacefully protested a few days ago. Local law enforcement makes arbitrary decisions. I wouldn’t advise road blockage but in totality no comparison. Newsweek & liberal scream looking for example. This ain’t playing in Kissimmee. Spare us. What matters is people’s freedom in which the Governor has as sured.

  • Charles

    July 14, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    Henderson- you’re so biased and filled with hatred it’s sickening. What about the rights of the working people trying to get home to their families.
    Protest but not at the expense of the rights of others. As to assaulting a police officer 👮‍♀️ that can’t be justified even in your distorted view.
    You’re a example as to why the press approval ratings are so dismal

    • Jana

      July 15, 2021 at 3:58 pm

      Too bad you are so way off base. Want to see hatred?…..then turn on Fox News Entertainment. You will get a real dose of it there and lies as well. A law is a law and the writer is correct. If this was BLM, DeathSantis would be all over it. He is not the brightest playing the race card. Let’s see how far he gets

  • Joe Henderson

    July 15, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    Charles, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. My father was a factory worker who lost his job when his bosses moved the plant to Tennessee in search of minimum wage labor. My mother was a waitress. You want to talk about the rights of working people? I lived it. Come at me with a better argument than millionaire Sean Hannity talking points. You’re being played for a chump.

  • Carlos Frontela

    July 15, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    Can you tell ke how many businesses were destroyed? How many homes were burnt to the ground? You’re all nothing but a bunch of communists over at Florida Politics.

Comments are closed.


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