Protests in 2020 in Florida by Black Lives Matter (BLM) and others speaking out using racism in the U.S. prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to push though legislation that limited protesting.
In April 2021, the Republican governor signed a controversial anti-riot bill. At the time he said, “All of a sudden you have people out there shutting down a highway. They start to do that, there needs to be swift penalties.”
The 61-page law covers a range of measures against mob violence and destruction and makes road blocking illegal, Local 10 reported.
Now people are wondering why Florida’s anti-crime bill didn’t apply to recent protesters in Miami? They were protesting in solidarity with a protest in Havana on July 11. Cubans held an unprecedented demonstration of anger over shortages of food, basic goods, and freedom in their country.
Could it be that the majority of the most recent protesters in Florida were white Cuban American as opposed to the high numbers of Black people who protested in Florida last year following the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd?
“I think people understand the difference between going out and peacefully assembling, which is obviously people’s constitutional right,” DeSantis said when South Floridians marched down Palmetto Expressway, closing it down for hours.
These protests, observers noted, had broken the law under the anti-riot act as blocking a freeway a felony, Newsweek reported. But no one was charged. And DeSantis has not explained why.
“They are in violation of the law, but you have to have patience. You can’t come out here and arrest everybody,” Joe Sanchez of the Florida Highway Patrol told Local 10.
Biblical scholar Wil Gafney told Newsweek that she doubted those protesting in Florida would face felony charges and she suspected it would be different if Haitians or BLM protesters of “any race” were in the same situation, writing on Twitter, “that’s who the law was written for.”
Other noted this as well on Twitter.
Deloris Bess@bess_deloris tweeted, “@MiamiDadePD How is this a peaceful protest, when people are on the highway? Isn’t that against the law? Wow! Just wondering if this was a BLM protest will my people get the same treatment? Every HUMAN deserves to be protected. Why aren’t MDCPD taking action?”
Bob Lyons @SteelDrumMusic tweeted, “Turnpike shut down for protesters in Homestead last night. I’m just trying to get home from work! BLM would NEVER have gotten away with this!”
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