Florida sheriff lays down the law; clarifies difference between ‘protest’ and ‘riot’

Florida sheriff lays down the law; clarifies difference between ‘protest’ and ‘riot’
Sheriff Grady Judd, Polk County, FL. NBC 8 Tampa (WFLA) video

For months, organized agitators and the media have been exploiting the failure of woke state and local officials to protect the public when “protest” events quickly turn into riots on the city streets.  The difference has been marked between states like New York, Illinois, Washington, and Oregon, which have seen the worst of the rioting, and states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Texas, where authorities have been quicker to shut it down.

Florida is among the states that have had less of a problem to date.  But Governor Ron DeSantis and the state legislature are taking no chances as Election Day 2020 nears.  They’re learning lessons from the disruptive tactics used by the organized thugs of Antifa and other “black bloc” groups in the hardest-hit states, and they’re getting out ahead of those often-insidious tactics by making sure that using them brings criminal penalties.

The thrust of the governor’s legislative effort basically amounts to this: organizers will not be able to use civil disobedience to create chaotic spaces in which the police are caught off-guard and can’t manage situations effectively.  The premise is that civil disobedience is not an exercise of First Amendment rights.  It’s an imposition on public safety, and it isn’t benign or without consequence.  It’s exactly the transitional behavior that paves the way for rioting, looting, and arson — which are already felony crimes.

The video in which DeSantis outlines the proposed modifications to Florida law is below.  But first, the headline video from Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, which lies south of Orlando between Orlando and Tampa.

In the video, Sheriff Judd gives a brief, trenchant tutorial on what constitutes “peaceful protest” and what is rioting, looting, and violence.

These simple truths are so obvious, it seems amazing that they have to be clarified.  It’s a reminder of the brain-addling political spell the media try to enforce on American minds night after night: the disorienting forays into a Neverland where stalking the roadways to attack mothers with children in their cars is called “protesting against racial injustice,” and looting and destroying department stores where hundreds of working people try to earn a living every day is called “claiming reparations.”  Burning down small businesses run by people of mostly “non-white” race or ethnicity?  “Fighting white supremacy.”

Florida is not having it.  If you can’t make it through the whole six-minute DeSantis video, at least watch the first two minutes to get a flavor of the refreshing directness and honesty perpetrators can expect when confronted with their deeds.

DeSantis specifically calls out the refusal of other states and locales to arrest, charge, and lock up people who are destroying the local communities.  He announces that it will be a felony to engage in “violent or disorderly assembly.”  “Incapacitating the roadways” will be prohibited, along with destroying or toppling public property such a monuments.

The new law addresses harassing people in public accommodations; e.g., outdoor restaurant seating.

And it applies RICO liability to “anyone who organizes or funds” schemes of disorderly, violent, or otherwise criminal behavior.  So the law enforcement authorities of Florida will not just be tracking the organization of “black bloc” groups and their plans; they’ll be going after funders like the shadowy online fundraisers, registered or unregistered, that keep these groups in gas money and food coaches, as well as funders that trace to the highest-profile activists like Soros, Omidyar, Steyer, and others in the Democratic dark-money tank.

There’s a lot more.  It’s a very good bet Florida will do better with this law in place than states with hard-Left leadership where threats to public safety increasingly go unpunished and unaddressed.  Sheriff Judd speaks for many when he says he’s proud of the governor and the speaker of the Florida state house for taking this precaution.  It appears that Polk County will be well served with Judd on the tip of the spear.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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