Gov. DeSantis on traffic-blocking demonstrators: ‘We can’t have that’
Image via AP.

DeSantis 7.12.21
DeSantis also said demonstrators expressing solidarity with Cuba weren't rioting.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he supports demonstrators showing support for the protests in Cuba, but he does not support those demonstrators blocking major South Florida thoroughfares.

Demonstrators supporting the protests in Cuba marched to Miami’s Palmetto Expressway Tuesday, where several of them sat down in the roadway. Traffic was eventually blocked in both directions.

“We can’t have that. It’s dangerous for you to be shutting down a thoroughfare. You’re also putting other people in jeopardy. You don’t know if an emergency vehicle needs to get somewhere, and then, obviously, it’s just disrespectful to make people stand in traffic,” DeSantis said speaking at a news conference Thursday about the ongoing situation in Cuba.

DeSantis’ condemnation comes two days after the South Florida demonstrations and after DeSantis said protests in Cuba were a “much different situation” than Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.

Police didn’t immediately move the Cuba protest-supporting demonstrators blocking the South Florida expressway Tuesday, spurring Democratic Rep. Omari Hardy to tweet about it.

“I’m very happy that everyday Cubans feel empowered enough to protest the injustices in their country. But when Black Americans protest injustice using the very same methods, we are deemed rioters, subversives, traitors, un-American,” he wrote.

DeSantis said Thursday demonstrators expressing solidarity with Cuba weren’t rioting.

“They’re not violent. Those aren’t riots. They’re out there being peaceful, and they’re making their voice heard, and we support them and their ability to do that. But it can’t be where you shut down commerce, or you shut down the ability to use these arteries,” DeSantis said about the people blocking traffic.

Democrats are suggesting the Governor isn’t fairly applying his new protest law, House Bill 1. That law, which DeSantis proposed after protests over the police killing of George Floyd last summer, increases penalties for people who commit crimes while protesting in Florida.

Senate Democrats sent Attorney General Ashley Moody a letter Wednesday asking for clarification about how House Bill 1 would be applied.

“We believe it is critical for every Floridian to be treated equally, and since we’ve seen peaceful protests emerge across various municipalities and local governments — many spilling onto state roadways — it’s critical that elected officials and Floridians alike have clarity from your perspective as Florida’s Chief Legal Officer as it relates to the new statute,” read the letter, which was signed by Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, Sens. Lori Berman, Janet Cruz, Jason Pizzo and Bobby Powell.

But DeSantis on Thursday told reporters blocking major thoroughfares was “illegal in Florida way before HB 1,” which is true. House Bill 1 updated an existing Florida statute about blocking roads during a protest. The previous statute also held that it was illegal for a person to obstruct traffic on public streets.

The protests mark the first major test for House Bill 1, a controversial law that’s facing multiple court challenges.

Senate Democrats wrote in their letter they are pleased so far with the way the new law largely has not been applied.

“We are pleased and frankly thankful that the draconian and anti-democratic measures contained within HB 1 have not been weaponized against those who are peacefully protesting,” read the letter.

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for FloridaPolitics.com. Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected]


6 comments

  • DR LARRY MYERS

    July 15, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    Protests and theater can be dangerous. The traffic blocking could potentially as deadly as what is done to Cubans on a daily basis. The Playwrights Sanctuary inspires newer and younger poets and playwrights to pen plays and poems on critical issues. As I recall Catholics there are in favor of the protests. The political game is a sad distraction. People need to chip in, organize and really help. Sitting and issuing pronouncements and judging other politicians is a sad story. Think about it: kind people are not weak people. “Advanced Catholic” Dr. Larry Myers recent St John s University retired professor has examined the roots of African Catholics and is knowledgeable on foreign affairs. His “Santeria Street Theater” is about Cuba now. “Towers Fall” is a play Myers composed based on his recent Surfside Miami volunteerism Both the aforementioned plays previewed at David Lamble s Backyard Theater in San Francisco.

  • Tom Palmer

    July 15, 2021 at 10:06 pm

    Finally, a little sanity to the discussion. I hope the previous commenters play goes well.

  • Tom

    July 16, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Palmer you have issues.
    This is a nothing topic.
    No one supports streets being blocked, period.
    Dems did so with BLM & ANTIFA. Let’s be clear.
    Repubs oppsed looting, cribs, violence & non peaceful protest under the fourth amendment.
    Spare us from Dem arrogance, elitism.
    No objective clear minded human can compare the two period.

    • JoAnne

      July 16, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      Truth

    • Tom Palmer

      July 16, 2021 at 6:35 pm

      This is a nothing topic only to the GOP. The majority of BLM events were no more violent that what the Cuban emigres and their supporters did. Florida law outlaws blocking roads. the question is whether some protestors are more equal than others. It’s a Brave New World in Florida.

  • Matthew Lusk

    July 17, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Blocking traffic is not only a crime because it inconveniences people, it is very dangerous to life and death. The highway is not a place to protest or hold an insurrectionist riot, go to D.C. and March on the mall.

Comments are closed.


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