A Florida sheriff this week gave the media a lesson on the difference between a peaceful protest and a riot — complete with illustrative photos.
The speech: Speaking at a press conference on Monday unveiling Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed anti-rioting legislation, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd anticipated activists’ concerns about overly broad enforcement.
“I can tell you, folks, so there is no misunderstanding today. This is a peaceful protest. This is a riot,” Judd said, holding up one photo of a group of people holding signs and another of a burning vehicle.
- “We can tell the difference. The governor can tell the difference. Our law enforcement officers can tell the difference.”
- Judd went on to display two more sets of photos, acknowledging, “Some people are slow learners.”
- “If you loot, the next thing you can try to steal is something off your food tray at the county jail, ’cause you’re going to jail. That’s a guarantee. And we’re going to enjoy taking you down there,” the sheriff said.
- “I truly believe in our God-given right and our constitutional right to speak openly and freely, to address our government. That’s important. We listen every day. But I’ve also watched across this country when law enforcement officers who put their life on the line were told to stand down, allow them to burn the precinct.”
Law and order: In response to rioting and looting associated with months of racial justice protests in U.S. cities, DeSantis seeks to make it a third degree felony to participate in violent protests.
- The Republican governor’s bill would also cut government benefits for anyone convicted of such activity and allow the state to withhold funding from any city that “defunds” its police.
- “We’re not going to let Florida go down the road that some of these other places have gone, DeSantis said at Monday’s press conference, echoing President Donald Trump.
- “If you can do this and get away with it, then you’re going to have more people do it. If you do it and you know that there’s going to be a ton of bricks rain down on you, then I think that people will think twice about engaging in this type of conduct.”