Black Lives Matter activists question equal exercise of Florida protest law
Ron DeSantis says Cuban protesters in Miami blocking roads is 'unacceptable.' Image via AP.

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Many allege a so-called anti-riot isn't being applied based on politics.

Some Black Lives Matters activists say a double standard is being used as people blocked busy roadways in Florida this week in support of antigovernment demonstrations in Cuba, with limited action taken by law enforcement despite a new law enhancing penalties against disruptions by protesters.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into Florida law a measure earlier this year that boosts penalties against demonstrators who turn violent and creates new criminal penalties for those who organize demonstrations that get out of hand. Provisions of the law also make it a felony to block some roadways and give immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road.

The bill was introduced after last summer’s protests for racial justice during which some Black Lives Matter protesters were met by police with tear gas and arrests when they took to the streets for days at a time.

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.

“I think it’s just downright hypocrisy we’re seeing from the governor, and even law enforcement in how they’re applying this law. It goes to show how our fears that we had earlier … that it will be used against Black people fighting for equal rights,” he added.

On Wednesday, the ACLU of Florida filed a motion in federal court in Tallahassee to block the law immediately, asserting that it could criminalize peaceful protests and shield people who injure protesters in roadways from civil penalties, as well as cast a chilling effect on peaceable protests.

The ACLU had filed a lawsuit on behalf of several Black-led organizations in May seeking to overturn the new law on grounds it violates the First Amendment and targets certain racial justice advocacy groups.

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

The governor’s spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, took to her personal Twitter account Wednesday bashing “the Left and aligned corporate media,” asserting that they “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.

In an email to The Associated Press, Pushaw said the Governor had signed the law to empower law enforcement to protect and serve the people of Florida.

“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.”

Pushaw pointed out that blocking roadways without a permit was illegal long before the new law, and law enforcement agencies around the state have discretion to enforce the law in a way to ensure public safety.

Waving Cuban flags, hundreds of protesters on Wednesday demonstrated at a busy intersection outside one of Miami’s most famous Cuban restaurants, Versailles. Miami spokesman John Heffernan confirmed that the city approved a permit to close down five blocks along Calle Ocho in the Little Havana neighborhood Wednesday. Many of the protesters dispersed, though, when it started raining at the start of the demonstration.

Associated Press


15 comments

  • Ed

    July 15, 2021 at 8:56 am

    I did not see Cubans looting stores, burning police cars, smashing store windows, using skateboards as weapons, and on and on and on.
    For a comparison look at the riots of last summer. That is what DeSantis will prevent.

  • DR LARRY MYERS

    July 15, 2021 at 9:37 am

    yOU NAILED IT WITH THIS WHISTLEBLOWER PIECE. Playwright Dr. Larry Myers is penning “Santeria Street Theater”
    This stage work considers the Blessed Mother s “intervention” via moving democratic Spirit. Myers play is for this revolution and honors his late fiend, Maria Irene Fornes, Cuban playwright. Myers was recent volunteer at Surfside Miami condo tragedy site. His srvice/learning manifesto was developed at St John s University where he was 30 years professor…sometimes Floridian/Catholic convert Tennessee Williams was close to Myers. Keep getting this word out. Cuba must be helped and saved.

  • GD

    July 15, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    This will make getting the law thrown out very easy as shows how biased it is used.
    Cuban protesters good, Black ones bad as you see in the comments by the racists here how they make their comments that black protests are violent, destructive when few were and BLM stopped the looting by criminals here in Tampa, not police.
    DeFascist colors are showing and it has a white hood.

  • Bobby

    July 15, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    Maybe learn not to break/loot other people’s property.

    • tjb

      July 17, 2021 at 10:32 am

      Are we talking about the terrorist that attacked the Capitol on Jan 6? My mistake. Looting and destruction were done, but let not forget the 5 American citizens that lost their lives from this event.

      • zhombre

        July 17, 2021 at 7:22 pm

        Yeah, all of them from natural causes except Ashli Babbitt who was assassinated by a federal officer.

        • tjb

          July 18, 2021 at 7:36 am

          Assassinated? Again, as I stated before, as your name implies, you are brain dead.

          • zhombre

            July 18, 2021 at 8:51 am

            Your insults are meaningless, like the buzz of a cicada. The truth is often derided by those of smaller minds, who prefer lies.

  • Joe

    July 15, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    DeSantis made a statement today that blocking traffic and disrupting business will not be tolerated.

    He forgot her stated that those doing so will be arrested.

  • Tom Palmer

    July 15, 2021 at 10:08 pm

    Here at the Dacron Republican Democrat we stand for our values.

  • Hugh Jones

    July 16, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    Blm has outed theirselves as the marxist communists they are. We don’t care about their opinion in Florida.

  • Tom Palmer

    July 17, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    BLM’s call for lifting the embargo, even though it’s a Cold War relic, wasn’t the best move. It gave little Marco an opening to send them back to Africa via Cuba.

  • martin

    July 18, 2021 at 8:17 am

    When BLM shows they care about the carnage that is occurring among young black men in our inner cities, then maybe the rest of us will care about anything BLM has to say. Otherwise who cares what they have to say.

  • T. Kelly

    July 25, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    *fair treatment
    *liberty
    *veteran

Comments are closed.


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