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Polk County, Florida Sheriff Grady Judd used a series of photographs contrasting peaceful protests and illegal acts of violence in appearing to playfully explain the difference to reporters in a show of support for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new legislative proposal that would impose harsh new penalties on rioters and looters.
“I can tell you, folks, so that there’s no misunderstanding today. This is a peaceful protest,” he began, holding up a photo of people marching with signs.
“This is a riot,” he then said, holding up a picture of a vehicle burning coupled with debris littering a street. “We can tell the difference. The governor can tell the difference. Our law enforcement officers can tell the difference.
“In the event you didn’t get that, let me show you something,” he continued, bring up two more pictures, one of a demonstration and the other of an individual carrying items he allegedly took from a store.
“This is a peaceful protest. This is looting,” Judd said. “If you loot, the next thing you can try to steal is something off of your food tray at the county jail. ‘Cause you’re going to jail. That’s a guarantee. And we’re gonna enjoy taking you down there.”
Judd then held up a third set of pictures, another of a peaceful protest and one in which an individual appears to be trying to damage a vehicle.
“Some people are slow learners,” he said as he presented the third set, to chuckles from DeSantis.
“This is a peaceful protest, this is violence,” Judd continued. “It’s not acceptable.
In late May, as riots and looting erupted in Minneapolis following the George Floyd incident, MSNBC’s Ali Velshi was widely mocked for dramatically downplaying obvious violence occurring in his immediate vicinity.
MSNBC reporter just now: "I want to be clear on how I characterize this. This is mostly a protest. It is not generally speaking unruly."
The guy is literally standing in front of a burning building in the middle of a riot. pic.twitter.com/IzCV6On4sF
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 29, 2020
Though fires burned throughout the city and the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct building had been evacuated and set ablaze, Velshi continued to downplay what was happening around him.
As buildings burned behind him and mobs roamed the city’s streets, Velshi claimed what was taking place was “mostly a protest,” and that participants had not been “unruly.”
“For most of the day, today, it looked a lot calmer than yesterday looked,” Velshi told anchor Brian Williams in the MSNBC studio, though Gov. Tim Walz (D) had activated National Guard units.
“I want to be clear on how I characterize this,” Velshi said. “This is mostly a protest.”
In August, against the backdrop of fires burning out of control in Kenosha, Wis., following a police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, a live CNN shot of the mayhem included a chyron that said, “Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests After Police Shooting.”
As for Judd, he noted that First Amendment protections are “important,” but there is a difference between protesting and rioting.
“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,” he added.
“But I’ve also watched across this country when law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line were told to stand down. Allow ‘em to burn the precinct. Allow ‘em to rob and loot,” Judd said, praising DeSantis and Florida’s legislative leaders for “just being here…and saying that you support us.
“For everyone across the U.S. this is what leadership looks like,” he added. “This is remarkable. This is a state that you want to come and vacation, This is a state where you want to grow your business. This is a state where you can be safe.”
Noted DeSantis:” I look at what goes on in Portland. They’ll have people, they’ll arrest them. They’re all scraggly-looking ANTIFA-types. They get their mugshot taken, then they get released. It’s like a carousel; on and on it goes. That’s not going to happen in here in Florida.”
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