Speed Reads

Things that make you go hmmmmm...

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asks Cuba protesters to stop blocking roads, an illegal act under his 'anti-riot' law

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a controversial "anti-riot" law in April, citing racial justice protests following the police killing of George Floyd, he said "there needs to be swift penalties" when "you have people out there shutting down a highway." On Tuesday, when South Floridians blocked the Palmetto Expressway for hours in support of Cuban anti-government protesters, DeSantis said, "I think people understand the difference between going out and peacefully assembling, which is obviously people's constitutional right." 

"Democrats and other critics of the law — which is being challenged in federal court — accused DeSantis and other Republicans of supporting selective enforcement of the measure," which clearly mandates punishments for obstructing public streets and highways, Politico reports. "They said the measure was designed to target Black protesters upset with police shootings. But now DeSantis and other GOP leaders are in a difficult position since they support the aims of many of the demonstrators backing Cuba in Miami and elsewhere."

After days of being accused of hypocrisy, DeSantis said Thursday that law enforcement can't "tolerate" people blocking traffic, though he praised law enforcement for breaking up the road blockades without arresting anyone. "It's dangerous for you to be shutting down a thoroughfare," he said. "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."

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, the only Senate Republican to vote against the anti-riot bill, said Thursday that he had warned his colleagues about the dangers of selective enforcement. "People gather for all sorts of reasons, they happen spontaneously," he told Politico. "The law doesn't contemplate the difference."