Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation providing for jail terms of up to 60 days and $500 fines for protesting outside the homes of public officials and private citizens — like what’s been happening to U.S. Supreme Court justices since the leak of a draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade.
“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 written statement. “This bill will provide protection to those living in residential communities and I am glad to sign it into law.”
The Phoenix reported in October that at least five local school board members in the state had faced verbal abuse, vandalism, and other forms of intimidation amid the furor over whether to make public schoolchildren wear masks in the classroom to protect them against COVID-19.
“I’ve personally had some threatening texts from people that I didn’t know had my cell phone number … and I turned that over to law enforcement,” Jane Goodwin, a Sarasota County School Board member, said during a Zoom press conference at the time. (She’s now the board chair.)
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that about a dozen protesters gathered at Sarasota Board chair Shirley Brown’s house with sirens and bullhorns, calling her a “tyrant.” (Brown remains a board member but is no longer the chair.)
Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins wrote in The Washington Post that protesters gathered in front of her house to call her a pedophile and burned “FU” on her yard with weed killer.
The new law takes effect on Oct. 1. After that, people picketing or protesting outside dwellings could be found guilty of second-degree misdemeanors. However, cops first would have to give them a chance to disperse.
The law (HB 1571) cleared the Legislature during its regular session earlier this year, well before Justice Samuel Alito’s draft became public. An analysis released at the time cited picketing outside the homes of Florida’s two U.S. senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and the Orlando home of one of the officers convicted in George Floyd’s murder.
In the D.C. area, protesters have targeted the homes of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, according to this NPR report.
The Black Collective, a group that described itself as “committed to promoting a shared agenda to elevate political consciousness and amplify the economic power of Black communities,” issued a written statement denouncing the new law.
Francesca Menes, the group’s co-founder and chairperson, compared the measure to HB 1, DeSantis’ legislative response to the George Floyd protests. A federal judge ruled it an unconstitutional curb on protest rights.
“The right to peaceful protest is a bedrock American principle that should never be undermined,” Menes said.
“That’s not the case here in Florida, where we have seen legislation the last two sessions undermining this vital right and attacking the Black communities that have relied on it to bring about meaningful change for generations.”
The new law “only reaffirms our will to make sure our voices are heard in order to create a brighter future for the people of our state,” Menes said.
–Michael Moline, Florida Phoenix
Edith Campins says
So much for 1st Amendment rights. He is eroding our rights one law at a time. But it is stil ok to harass women going into clinics. Republicans really think the Constitution is only there to protect THEIR rights.
Flagler voter says
And Democrats still think it’s ok to intimidate our judges and elected officials!!!
Thank you, has nothing to do with first amendment rights, has everything to do with the right to privacy, to feel safe in your own home and to enjoy peace. The democratic machine has destroyed this country jn just over a year !!. Hope yall are happy. Gov Desantis is the best governor this state has ever had. Coming from a retired state employee.
Short memory? Does the group at the capital ring a bell with you? That mob that tried an insurrection sure wasn’t made up of Dems. Oh, thats right they were just tourists.
Heathen Lady says
@Hooch, with all due respect, Ron Desantis is hardly “the best governor this state has ever had!” He’s a power hungry fascist dictator, just like his buddy Trump. He doesn’t give a flip about Floridians (Except his rich diners).
“Freedom state” my butt! I for one, am tired of being oppressed by this arrogant putz.
Florida Voter says
So I guess you ignore the statement “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people peaceably to assemble” The key is the word “peaceably.” This law even prohibits peaceful protests. Make violent and abusive behavior illegal (most of it already is), but leave the right for peaceful protests. If you remove the right for peaceful protests, then all rights in the Constitution are void. You can’t pick-and-choose.
Wow. Desantis is the worse governor in history. He is acting like 1940’s Germany taking all of our rights away. Can’t wait to toss him to the curb. And this jerk thinks he’ll run for president. Remember he was our rep for our area before govenor. Did nothing then either. Just another loud mouth , Republican. (And I am a 42yr Republican saying this)
The dude says
School Board says “wait… what?!???…”
How so any examples?
Yep, they do – following in the footsteps of that group called the Sons of Liberty. Remember them? They were the group that brought us events like the Boston Tea Party and the Gaspee Affair. Old George the III hated them. Trouble makers and rabble rousers they were. Proud to be counted among them I am . . .
And if these paragons of virtue are so easily intimidated by a few folks speaking out against their decisions, they have no business being in the public eye. Being a representative of the people requires more than tissue paper for skin. What was it Harry said? “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
Mark K says
To answer Flagler voter :
Elected officials and judges are public figures. Women going to the clinics are private citizens. Why are they allowed by DeSantis to be harassed ?
Yet it’s okay for MAGA-ots to protest in front of school board members house and places of work? It’s okay for MAGA-ots to bring weapons to peaceful Board and Council meetings intimidating the publics right to assemble peacefully?
Florida Voter says
In reply to a fellow voter:
Most of what was cited for this law is either already illegal (burned “FU” on her yard with weed killer), some other form of stalking or harassments (going to someone’s house to shout insults at them … maybe) or likely against city ordnance (volume, blocking roads … kindof). “Intimidation” requires some kind of threat, which is already illegal (if it’s specific enough). There are already laws that prohibit abusive behavior but still allow for PEACEFUL assembly. In fact, I think the right for peaceful assembly is actually mentioned in some important document … without any conditions other than “peaceful.” If we lose that right, we lose the entire document. We can’t “pick-and-choose” which parts to respect.
Let’s not forget harassing High School Students or any Visitor to Flagler Beach on any given day.
Excellent comment Edith!
Many of the same hypocrites who are against “peaceful” protests in residential areas have no problem with the Jan. 6th violent deadly attack on our nation’s capitol and those officers trying to protect a rightful transition of power.
Essentially, when it’s maga republicans protesting. . . anything goes, right? Beating police, breaking windows, smearing excrement in our nation’s Capitol building, stealing, threatening to hang the Vice President, and on and on!
But, when it’s Democrats, especially women and people of color, “lock them up”. . . or, as trump said, “shoot them”!
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! DEMOCRATIC!
Deborah Coffey says
Bravo, Edith! It’s getting quite Fascist in Florida and DeSantis isn’t stopping any time soon. Let’s vote him out.
Ben Dover says
I hope they arrest that Nazi soon , Disney should hire a mechanic to fix his wagon
The Geode says
I don’t know HOW this became a “black thing”. I don’t know how EVERYTHING becomes a “black thing” I don’t know this became a “hey y’all, those black people said they don’t like it – I didn’t hear them say it, but they don’t like it”, thing? However, THIS is what most of us think (but won’t say out loud) Why don’t we go to the “private residences” of the people who harbor killers? Why don’t we go to the “private residences” of the people we’re complaining about BEFORE we have to go to the “private residences” of politicians and anybody else who doesn’t have a CLUE as to what they are crying about nor do they care? How? Why?
So DeSantis is all about freedom? We are already sliding down that slippery slope.
Don’t protest in the front of elected officials houses. Women are in trouble fir trying to get an abortion.
Interesting to note that when people were protesting in front of abortion providers’ homes the US Supreme Court upheld their right to do it under the First Amendment. This is called hypocrisy.
So much for the constitution! Where is our right to the 1st amendment!? So they can vote corrupt officials into office and we aren’t allowed to go to their house and express ourselves! Who else is suppose to run these crooks out of town! So we just let them live In peace while they try to destroy everything?
Oh our wonderful governor, so thoughtful of others and creating issues where none existed. Raging a war on women, picking a fight with a mouse. Protecting his feint-hearted, Lilly-livered cronies from the big bad world. Such a hero. I am waiting for him to now do something for the people of Florida, like addressing an out of control insurance market where homeowners are either being canceled because their roof is now 15 years old or they are faced with 50% premium increases. Or maybe he could address the gas prices and how the oil companies are gouging the consumer – all the while pocketing record profits. I am so proud to have such a man as governor, a man who cares so much about us ‘little folks’.
Ugh, I just threw up in my mouth. Vote this piece of bovine excrement out of office; kick him to the curb, sweep up the remains and put him out with the trash.
Deborah Coffey says
Yes! Let’s do it!
Oh sure we would have been much better off if we had Gillum for governor. (Sarcasm)
How soon you forget.
Of course he signed this bill he doesn’t want people protesting at his residence. Always all about him.
If most of you people knew what you are talking about you would be dangerous. I had a neighbor up north who was being protested by people in front of his house. The man’s family couldn’t even walk out their front door without being harassed. the man couldn’t pull out of his driveway. The police told them that they couldn’t do anything because protesters had the first amendment on their side. It was a pretty scary few days for the neighborhood. So until you walk in the shoes of the harassed you should try to either be quiet or look at things from another side.
The dude says
So peaceful protests on public property is now illegal here.
Now do blatant and open threats of violence against school board members and government officials. Make that illegal too.
Donald J Trump says
Florida elected a no good scum bag as Governor, don’t make this mistake again. He is criminal, a crook without a trace of ethics, morals or honesty. Vote for me, because only I can save from politicians like DeSantis. Ron is not a Christian but tries to project that image simply to fool the Evangelists. Me and my family are the only way to heaven, please open your checkbook to for me, I will in return grant you a degree from my personal university or a beautiful red hat. I’m no longer sourcing my cheap products from China, now all the products all the products I personally have selected for you now come from our friends in Russia, God bless me and my family.
Adolph Death santis !!!!!
Vote NO for Soviet DeSantis!