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Black Lives Matter leaders in a Florida town are being fined thousands of dollars for using megaphones during demonstrations, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
The new report found that law enforcement officers in the Florida town of New Port Richey issued noise ordinances that are worth thousands of dollars to demonstrators who used megaphones since the summer. The noise complaints from July to November were not initiated by citizens living in the town, but by police officers, according to The Times.
The Times investigation revealed that there were about five protestors who received 14 citations totaling up to more than $4,700. Christina Boneta, who has been at the protests since the beginning of the summer, told The Times that she has over $2,573 in fines and was not warned by officers before the citations were issued.
Boneta told the publication that the fines started at $173 but grew to $518 over the use of megaphones.
“The point of protesting is so people can hear you and we can bring issues to people,” Boneta told the newspaper. “It’s supposed to be loud.”
Protestors plan to fight the citations in court.
Florida Governor Drafts Bill Allowing Citizens to Shoot Protestors
Earlier this month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drafted a bill that would allow any armed citizen to shoot a protestor. The “anti-mob” law would expand stand your ground laws in the state, making it legal for armed citizens to shoot at anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business, The Miami Herald reported.
The proposed legislation would also enhance criminal penalties and make it a third-degree felony for people involved in “violent or disorderly assemblies,” according to the newspaper.
“It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions,” Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor told The Miami Herald. “It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”
Stand your ground laws allow armed citizens to defend themselves and others around them if they are in danger. Civil rights organizations have criticized these laws, which are implemented in some form in 34 states.
“These laws are at best unnecessary, and at worst, extremely harmful. Centuries-old legal principles and codified self-defense laws across the US have long affirmed an individual’s right to use proportionate physical force to defend him or herself and others against imminent violence,” a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center read. “Self-defense laws in the US typically justify use of lethal force in situations in which it is objectively reasonable for a person to believe that lethal force is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm to themselves or another person.”
The news of the noise citation citations and DeSantis’ proposed legislation comes just a few months after social justice demonstrators demanded justice for the unjustified deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Since then, DeSantis has threatened protestors, noting that he would “rain a ton of bricks” of penalties on demonstrators.