Florida

Activists, Lawyers See ‘Double Standard' in Florida's Response to Cuba Demonstrations

'I applaud the police for using discretion ... but I want that same energy carried forward when the protesters have more melanin in their skin,' said one lawyer

Rally In Miami Held In Support Of Cuban Protestors
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When demonstrators took to the streets of Florida this week to show solidarity with anti-government protesters in Cuba, shutting down a major stretch of an expressway and blocking streets in cities across the state, some eyes turned to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis, a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, signed into law a measure that ramps up penalties against demonstrators this year — including a provision that makes it a felony to jam some roadways during protests.

HB 1, dubbed the "anti-riot law" by supporters, was introduced during last summer's protests for racial justice in the wake of the death of George Floyd, when some law enforcement officers arrested Black Lives Matter protesters or sprayed them with tear gas.

But as protesters rallied in Miami, Tampa and Orlando this week, officers generally appeared to exercise restraint, reportedly making only a handful of arrests. In the eyes of David Winker, a defense lawyer who has represented Black Lives Matter demonstrators, the double standard was clear.

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