Roy Exum: Muffling The Mobs From Neighborhoods

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

On Monday Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill to combat bad behavior, which most laws do, but HB 1571 should have never been necessary. It bans angry mobs and profane picketers from going into neighborhoods to protest in front of somebody’s house. We’ve seen the upraised middle fingers and the insidious language spewed out of megaphones in recent weeks in front of some Supreme Court justices’ homes. Florida is not about to put up with such vulgar harassment.

The law calls for law enforcement to issue first a warning, followed by misdemeanor arrests, jail, and/or fines. Sure, Americans in Florida can still gather, protest and picket all they please in public spaces, but to assault a person’s residence and disturb the peace is a trend that will be muffled and rightly so. I expect other states to follow, particularly Virginia where some of the justices reside with their families and children.

"Sending unruly mobs to private residences, like we have seen with the angry crowds in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices, is inappropriate, "DeSantis said in a statement Monday. "This bill will provide protection to those living in residential communities and I am glad to sign it into law."

When the legislation takes effect Oct. 1, the bill will ban residential protests “before or about” a person’s home that “harass” or “disturb” a person within their home.

Actually, the bill was approved by the Florida legislature in March before the leak of a draft which hinted the end of Roe v. Wade and federal abortion protections, seen for the first time on May 2. A reporter at Television WJTV said while the SCOTUS leak, and subsequent protests, are a more recent example, Florida lawmakers cited “targeted protests” at the homes of U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both of Florida, as well as picketers at the home of a Brevard County school official who faced protests due to her mask position related to COVID-19.

State Senator Keith Perry, a sponsor of the bill, previously said there should be a difference between a dwelling – which the bill defines as a residence – and a public space when it comes to protests.

During legislative testimony at hearings reviewing the bill’s language in the 2022 legislative session, Lt. Mike Crabb of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office told lawmakers that the law would draw a line in the sand when it came to protests at private homes. Crabb referred to protests outside the home of Brian Laundrie’s parents as well.

“Brian Laundrie, the murderer from Southwest Florida, had days and days of protest at his house, his parents’ house,” Crabb said in February. “He’s not an elected official, his parents weren’t an elected official but that wasn’t right either. Whether, whatever side you’re on, it gives you protection, it’s not just for an elected (or an appointed) official.”  

Last week in Washington Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the U.S. Marshals Service to provide additional support after Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett have all had continued demonstrations staked outside of their homes.

Can you believe America would ever stoop so low to attack a person’s home??

royexum@aol.com


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