New anti-riot law shows its teeth as two Tampa protestors held without bond

Tampa Protests
The pair were part of larger Tampa protests in support of the Cuban demonstrations.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested two men Tuesday at Tampa rallies in support of Cuba’s anti-government protests — and a new law has taken away their chance at a quick release.

Police arrested Julian Rodriguez of Tampa and Maikel Vasquez-Pico of Riverview Tuesday on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting law enforcement and taking part in an unlawful assembly that blocked streets or sidewalks, according to arrest records. The pair were participants in Tampa’s protests against Cuba’s communist regime.

Now, the duo are being held without bond — allowable now as part of HB 1, legislation passed this past Legislative Session that sought to crack down on violent protests.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law back in April.

A priority of the GOP-controlled Legislature and DeSantis, the bill stiffens penalties against violent protest, including so-called “mob intimidation.” One provision of the new law prohibits bail for those arrested for unlawful assembly.

“You go to jail and stay in jail until you have your first appearance, and then the judge can determine whether you get your bond or not,” DeSantis said, touting the legislation during a Fox News appearance in April.

Both arrest records list “HB-1 PER ADMIN ORDER S2021-025” under the charge of unlawful assembly, and the two will be held until their first appearance in court.

Before the anti-riot law, the two men would have been able to post bail immediately based on a pre-set bond schedule.

Rodriguez and Vazquez-Pico face second-degree misdemeanor charges for obstructing walkways/traffic, a violation of Section 14-41 of Tampa’s code of ordinances. The pair were arrested Tuesday as part of the crowd of the protestors blocking traffic around Dale Mabry Highway and Interstate 275, according to their arrest records.

As police pushed the crowd to disperse around 6 p.m., Rodriguez and Vazquez-Pico had an aggressive encounter with officers, police said.

Rodriguez is being charged with resisting law enforcement with violence, a third-degree felony, and two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer. Vazquez-Pico is charged with resisting without violence, a first-degree misdemeanor, and one count of battery on a law enforcement officer.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


6 comments

  • Charles

    July 14, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Exactly what this law was designed for.
    Peaceful protests are fine
    Assaulting police not fine
    Yea for Florida for getting this right

  • Tom Palmer

    July 14, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    What about the people who blocked a highway in Miami?

  • DR LARRY MYERS

    July 14, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you and may Spirit bless you for your excellent writing…I urge lightworkers and artists and poets and especially playwrights TO WRITE ABOUT CUBA NOW AND TO DEMONSTRATE!

    mY PLAY”sANTERIA sTREET tHEATER”
    IS A PRODUCT OF THE NEW THEATER RISING.

    wE MUST NOT LET THESE INTELLIGENT VOICES BE SILENCED.
    wE MUST WITNESS AND WITH CONVICTION AND COMPASSION USE THIS AS “CREATIVE DISASTER.” WE MUST SUPPORT YOUNGER AND NEWER PLAYWRIGHTS WITHOUT RESOURCES.

  • Used To Be Republican In Orlando

    July 15, 2021 at 11:52 am

    This law is one of the most unconstitutional pieces of state legislation I have ever seen in my life. Of course, no one likes a riot but this law clearly infringes on First Amendment rights and hopefully the courts will strike this clearly politically driven piece of garbage down quickly.

    The selective application of the law is also a concern. I mean, the GOP-leaning Republican Cubans in Miami can block statewide travel routes but Democratic-leaning Latinos in Tampa can’t? Ridiculous.

    Any picketer could be jailed indefinitely under this law because it has such a broad application.

    • Tom

      July 18, 2021 at 11:02 pm

      Liar, likely never a Repub.
      Good riddance,, Go.
      No worries.

  • Mary

    July 15, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    I agree, oppressive and far reaching laws seem like a good idea until you’re the one denied due process.

Comments are closed.


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