Via America’s Lawyer: Anti-Cuba protestors swarmed the streets in Florida, despite the state’s recent passage of the country’s most stringent anti-protest bill. RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to explain how dozens of states are considering enacting similar laws – which civil rights activists allege are a direct infringement on our freedoms of speech and assembly.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Mike Papantonio: Right wing demonstrators in Florida have been given a pass after breaking the state’s new anti protest laws during the demonstrations that have been against Cuban government. Last week in Florida, it was a big mess in Florida. Florida officials are now facing criticism for applying a double standard to protesters across the state. Brigida Santos joins me now to talk about this story. Brigida, first of all, as we, as we watch this story develop, I’m wondering, did police in Miami file charges against anti Cuban protesters last week? Were they actually charges filed?
Brigida Santos: No, last week, Florida police declined to charge hundreds of protesters who shut down the Palmetto expressway for eight hours in Miami-Dade county in violation of Florida’s new anti protest bill. Governor Ron DeSantis enacted Florida’s harsh new law in April in response to last year’s black lives matter protests. The law makes it a felony for protestors to block highways and it gives full immunity to people who drive through protestors. But in response to the anti Cuban government protests last week DeSantis tweeted that Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets and the rights of non-violent Cuban-American protesters. No arrests were made despite law violations. Critics immediately pointed out the difference in how Florida treats right-wing protesters versus other protestors who stand up against oppression.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. I’m looking at this and I, I’m telling you it’s, it’s kind of a 50 50 shot, whether this stands or not, because police powers, as we’ve talked about on this show are so strong, police powers are incredibly strong. You can talk about where protests are going to be. You can talk about how long they’re going to, how long they should take place. There’s all types of limitations you can put on this. So I’m not sure that this is a given that the Supreme Court is going to say, just strike this down. How are civil rights, how are civil rights groups responding to Florida’s anti-riot bill?
Brigida Santos: Yeah, a coalition of civil rights groups, including the ACLU, NAACP and Community Justice Project have filed a motion in a federal court in Florida to block the state’s new anti protest law. In a statement, the coalition says the law risks criminalizing peaceful protests, shields those who injure or kill protesters from civil penalties, discourages people from protesting and infringes on first amendment rights. And back in May, that same group also sued DeSantis directly and other state officials over House bill one.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. I’m not sure that these governors really care how this lands, whether the Supreme Court of their state takes it away, knocks it down. I think what it is, it’s a factor that they’re throwing red meat out to people who are kind of tired of protests. They went through an entire summer of it, entire, almost entire year of it. Maybe two years, if you look back. And I think this is kind of the conservative government, governors way of throwing out some red meat, knowing that it may not stick. How many other have passed similar laws that undermine the first amendment, as they put it?
Brigida Santos: Since 2017, over 35 states have passed anti protest laws that increased fees and jail time for those convicted of damaging infrastructure and assisting protesters even if they themselves don’t participate in any civil disobedience. The laws significantly restrain first amendment rights to freely assemble and of course, to free speech. The new laws have been heavily backed by police unions and corporations. Many of the legislators who sponsor new anti protest laws, also back new voter suppression laws. Corporate donors to these lawmakers include companies like AT&T, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds to name a few.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah, I, I’m not, you know, sometimes you look at, you look at legislation, you say, this is never going to live. If this one fails, it’s probably gonna be, it’s gonna fail on the way that it’s written. There’s some real illusory elements to it. There’s something, there’s some parts that if you were look at you really don’t understand what the law is and there’s some due process kind of arguments there. But you’re going to see some states where the state Supreme Court says, yeah, it’s okay. And we’ll see what SCOTUS does with it in the long run. Thank you for joining me. Okay.