Governor Ron DeSantis has been criticized for being hypocritical for the lack of enforcement of the anti-riot law against Cuban protesters who marched on multiple highways in Florida.
Given the fact that the new law made it a felony offense to block traffic while protesting, multiple African American leaders saw the lack of arrests as “selective enforcement” by DeSantis and law enforcement.
The law has been criticized ever since it was signed by DeSantis in April. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed a lawsuit against HB 1 just a few days later. As reported by The Florida Capital Star, they and other critics say that the law was strictly made to quell last summer’s Black Lives Matter riots.
The Capital Star also reported State Rep. Fentrice Driskell’s (D-63) response to the law that said, “It’s clearly hypocritical because the First Amendment gives us the right to free speech and assembly. It’s content-neutral, it doesn’t matter what it is you’re protesting … To pretend that what’s happening now is different than Black Lives Matter protests is a fiction.”
On Friday, DeSantis received more criticism from community leaders and The African American Council of Christian Clergy (AACCC) in Miami who have joined an injunction against HB 1. As reported by CBS Miami, Gregory Thompson for the AACCC stated, “Aggravated assault and aggravated battery are already crimes, if a protester commits those crimes they go to jail. We’re talking about the peaceful protest that has their first amendment rights to protest, but you can’t have a double standard in the law.”
CBS Miami’s report also includes a statement from the attorney fighting for the injunction, David Winker, who said, “Governor, you made a mistake. Your words have come back to haunt you. Repeal this law and let’s admit that it’s wrong.”
Winker is referring to the comments DeSantis made during a press conference for the bill signing in April. DeSantis said there needs to be “swift penalties” for people who “commandeer highways” during protests. DeSantis not being as “swift” to penalize the Cuban protesters is the root of the criticism he now faces.
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