Florida Bill Criminalizing Protests Outside Homes Moves Forward

6 months ago 109
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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A twelvemonth aft passing a sweeping instrumentality aimed astatine protests, authorities legislators are moving guardant with a connection that could criminalize demonstrations successful beforehand of oregon astir people’s homes – including the governor’s mansion.

House and Senate panels connected Tuesday approved akin measures that would marque it amerciable to “picket oregon protestation earlier oregon astir the residence oregon dwelling of immoderate idiosyncratic with the intent to harass oregon disturb that idiosyncratic successful his oregon her home.”

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The prohibition would use not lone to backstage spot but would widen to nationalist parks, sidewalks and rights-of-way.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina told the House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee that the prohibition is needed to support radical and their families from being hassled adjacent their abodes.

“Our astir ineffable determination is our home, wherever we don’t privation to beryllium disturbed, harassed,” Mina said.

Elected officials are accustomed to radical disagreeing with them successful nationalist places, the sheriff said, “but I deliberation what america and our neighbors don’t privation to spot is erstwhile we travel location to that ineffable location that we’re not intimidated oregon harassed astatine our home.”

Mina pointed to a radical of astir 200 protesters who staged protests for days extracurricular a residence successful Windermere owned by erstwhile Minneapolis constabulary serviceman Derek Chauvin. The demonstrations took spot earlier and aft Chauvin was charged with execution successful the decease of George Floyd, a Black antheral who died aft Chauvin knelt connected his cervix for much than 8 minutes. Chauvin was aboriginal convicted of sidesplitting Floyd, whose decease sparked nationwide protests implicit radical inequities successful policing.

Mina said helium had “no remedy” for residents successful the vicinity who complained astir the protests.

“They couldn’t locomotion their dogs. They couldn’t fto their kids thrust their bikes. … Some radical near their homes and stayed successful edifice rooms, if they had the means to bash that,” Mina said. “That’s however uncomfortable and intimidating and harassing the enactment was.”

But Rep. Geraldine Thompson, a Democrat who lives successful Windermere, said the measure does not see definitions of “harass” and “disturb.” She argued that the protests astatine Chauvin’s location were peaceful.

“They did march successful beforehand of the home. They wrote connected the sidewalk successful chalk, which could beryllium washed distant with water,” she said. “They did not disturb the location successful immoderate way.”

The House sheet approved the connection (HB 5157) successful a 14-3 vote, soon earlier the Senate Criminal Justice Committee signed disconnected connected a akin measurement (SB 1664) successful a 4-2 vote.

The connection came aft the Republican-controlled Legislature past twelvemonth passed a measurement (HB 1) championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis aft the protests responding to Floyd’s death. The instrumentality enhanced penalties and created caller crimes successful protests that crook violent. Civil-rights groups rapidly challenged the authorities successful court..

Calling it unconstitutionally “vague and overbroad,” Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker successful September blocked the law. DeSantis asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the judge’s decision. The state’s entreaty is pending.

Critics of the latest connection are echoing arguments against past year’s bill, saying the 2022 measurement could let instrumentality enforcement officials to apprehension peaceful protesters and pb to Black and Hispanic demonstrators being targeted by police.

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“I judge that this measure is different effort to further soundlessness and criminalize those who privation justness and accountability,” Gail Johnson, a erstwhile Gainesville metropolis commissioner, told the Senate committee. Johnson, who is Black, spearheaded a abstracted suit filed by cities challenging past year’s protestation legislation.

Johnson warned of the “disparate interaction this volition perfectly person connected Black and brownish communities.”

But Senate Criminal Justice Chairman Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, pressed Johnson connected the issue, asking “what’s the value” of protesting astatine an elected official’s residence.

“What’s the worth of america being capable to protestation peacefully successful the United States of America?” Johnson retorted.

American Civil Liberties Union of Florida lobbyist Neisha-Rose Hines told the committee that “there are already galore transgression statutes that tin address” demonstrations that get retired of hand.

“We judge bills similar these volition extremity up similar HB 1, being challenged by organizations similar the ACLU of Florida, and it is simply a discarded of taxpayers clip and money,” Hines said.

But Senate measure sponsor Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, said helium believes the authorities is constitutional.

“We didn’t privation to bounds anybody’s escaped code astatine all,” Perry said. “We conscionable wanted to accidental determination are definite areas that would beryllium disconnected limits to that due to the fact that it’s not redressing government. It’s intelligibly the intent to harass. Again, if you’re connected a sidewalk and a kid gets disconnected a schoolhouse bus, and they person to locomotion done a clump of protesters, picketers, astatine your home, and I would accidental not.”

The First Amendment Foundation and the ACLU of Florida said the measure would use to demonstrations extracurricular the governor’s mansion.

“This measure is truthful overly wide that, arsenic written, instrumentality enforcement could apprehension individuals peacefully protesting extracurricular the governor’s mansion if the serviceman subjectively thought that a protester’s intent was to disturb the governor. Arrests should beryllium based connected unlawful conduct; this measure allows instrumentality enforcement to apprehension based connected their subjective content arsenic to someone’s intent adjacent if their behaviour is perfectly lawful and protected by the First Amendment,” ACLU of Florida legislative manager Kara Gross said successful an email Tuesday afternoon.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, voted against the measure successful the Senate committee. Brandes said the measure is excessively vague.

“The close to assemble is 1 guaranteed by our Constitution, particularly if you’re going to peacefully assemble wrong a nationalist place, truthful I can’t enactment the bill. I recognize the intent. I deliberation the connection dwelling is fine. … But the connection ‘about’ is what I person interest with and the overly wide mentation that that could be,” Brandes argued.

The House and Senate bills each request to wide 1 much committee earlier they could beryllium considered for afloat level votes.

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(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This worldly whitethorn not beryllium published, broadcast, rewritten, oregon redistributed. The News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam contributed to this report.)

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