If anyone should be standing up for your constitutional rights, it should be your state attorney. What should happen and what does isn’t always the same though, is it? From the onset of the protests, I highlighted a concern I felt like was being under-addressed. Protesters who were violating the constitutional rights of others in their communities. The narrative being spun by many seemed to be that if protesters were peaceful, they were simply exercising their first amendment rights. From civic leaders to many in news media we’ve all heard statements to that effect. Here’s the problem. It wasn’t always true.
While the first amendment guarantees freedom of expression and the right to assemble, it’s not unlimited. Whether it’s the first amendment or the fourth, we’re not allowed to use our rights to infringe on others. That’s happened numerous times in South Florida and certainly across the country since protests started. If protesters are blocking your ability to enter your home or your business, they’re potentially violating your rights. It doesn’t matter if they’re peaceful and when arrests are made it’s no longer theoretical. If “peaceful” protesters have been arrested it’s because they’re not complying with the law. Two key state attorneys have now decided not to prosecute arrested protesters and curfew violators.
Miami-Dade's Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Hillsbourgh’s Andrew Warren have decided those who “peacefully” break the law and violate your rights are welcome to do so. Quoting Warren on his decision not to charge 67 arrested protesters: In each of those 67 arrests, the evidence shows the person arrested was peacefully protesting. There was no violence. There was no vandalism. There was no attack on a law enforcement officer. So that’s the new barometer. As long as they’re not breaking the laws the state attorney’s care about, it’s cool. Do whatever you want. That includes violating the rights of other Floridians by illegally assembling and obstructing.
If we have state attorneys which won’t stand up for the rule of law and your constitutional rights, unless they agree with your use of them, you get the idea. What’s more is that while these state attorneys are weighing their political futures more highly than our constitutional rights, activists are taking note. Show weakness and you see what radicals are willing to do in cities like Minneapolis and Seattle. If we have state attorneys which decide to side with illegal protesters over your constitutional rights, what else are they willing to compromise on? And if our rights aren’t protected by those being tasked with defending them, well.
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