DeSantis denies responsibility for First Amendment restrictions on protesting at Florida Capitol

DeSantis denies responsibility for First Amendment restrictions on protesting at Florida Capitol
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, speaks with members of Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., leadership during the governor's first visit to the base since becoming governor, Jan. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook)
News & Politics

Governor Ron DeSantis is denying any responsibility for new Florida restrictions on the First Amendment that ban protests at the state Capitol unless groups requesting a permit are sponsored by a state official and their protest “aligns” with his administration’s mission. On Wednesday, DeSantis joked about the January 6, 2021 insurrection while downplaying it as he spoke about the new state policy effectively curtailing the right to protest the government.

“I saw a little report that actually was not something that I was involved with. It didn’t necessarily come down from me,” DeSantis told reporters as he stood in front of a small airplane at a podium with a sign that read “Biden’s Border Crisis.”

DeSantis was likely referring to a report in Politico that firmly puts the DeSantis administration behind the new policy that restricts freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

“The DeSantis administration now requires events held at the Florida state Capitol to ‘align’ with its mission, a recent change that is sparking concerns that the governor’s office is trying to censor events it doesn’t like,” Politico reported Tuesday evening.

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“The Department of Management Services, the administration department that oversees state facilities, over the past few months has changed rules for groups or individuals who want to reserve space inside the Capitol. The changes require organizations seeking to reserve areas to make their requests through specific administration officials or legislative leaders and require they line up with the mission of the state.”

That effectively bans all protest against any legislation or policy the DeSantis administration supports. For example, it would have banned any protest at the Capitol against DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Continuing his remarks to reporters, DeSantis, an attorney, said, “I think I would imagine that it’s just, you go there and you speak your mind. Great, but you’ll have some groups that will try to take over capitals like we’ve seen in other other state capitals, he said. Protesting at state capitols is a hallmark of the right to protest and the right to “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It is as old as the Magna Carta.

” And you know, it’s interesting,” DeSantis added, “if, if, if they’re, if they’re doing that from the left and the media says, ‘that’s democracy in action.’ They don’t say it’s an insurrection if you take over you know, a capital because of that, but but I think that’s what it’s getting to and so, you know, we’ve been very supportive of people being able to speak their mind, it’s their right.”

Florida Politics, reporting on DeSantis “joking” about insurrection while denying responsibility for the restrictions on the right to protest at the state capitol, notes the “Governor had commented on Jan. 6 previously, including last spring when he said concern about the riots that delayed congressional certification of the 2020 Presidential Election was a ‘dead horse’ and a ‘loser’ with voters.”

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On the one-year anniversary of Trump’s insurrection, Florida Politics also noted, DeSantis said: “This is their Christmas,” referring to the media and Democrats

The January 6, 2021 insurrection was an insurrection because its goal was to stop lawmakers from certifying a free and fair election in order to overturn election results. Insurrectionists and rioters were not peaceably assembling, nor were they protesting a policy or law.

DeSantis has repeatedly mocked concern over the insurrection while attempting to minimize its significance.

In May he called the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade a “judicial insurrection.”

One month later, as the actual decision in that case was about to be handed down, DeSantis likened pro-choice activists protesting at the Supreme Court to insurrectionists trying to shut down government to overturn the election.

Watch videos of DeSantis’ remarks above or at this link.

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