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African American Community Leaders Discuss Anti-Riot Law, Ask Governor To Repeal HB1

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Community leaders and the African American Council of Christian Clergy came together Friday to call out Governor Ron DeSantis on the selective enforcement of HB1, an anti-riot law that enhances penalties for protesting.

That law came in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

"We also have penalties for people who commandeer highways which we saw in other parts of the country," he noted. "Just think about it, you're driving home from work and all of a sudden, you have people out there shutting down a highway. If they start to do that there needs to be swift penalties and that's something that just cannot happen," said DeSantis.

But those penalties were nonexistent when Cuban Americans shut down several South Florida highways for hours.

"We're here today to stand in support of our Cuban family, our Hatian family that they deserve liberation, no one should live in bondage, no country, no culture no creed, no individual, and since we're living in the land of the free we're standing here today to say to our governor that there seems to be a double standard with the HB1 bill," said Carl Johnson, with the 93rd Street Community Baptist Church.

"I'm sad but glad this happened because now it will show the pure and here on the constitutionality of this HB1 bogus law," said Pastor Richard Dunn II, with
Faith Community Baptist Church.

"Aggravated assault and aggravated battery are already crimes if a protester commits those crimes they go to jail. We're talking about the peaceful protest that has their first amendment rights to protest, but you can't have a double standard in the law," said Gregory Thompson, with The African American Council of Christian Clergy.

But the group isn't just voicing their concerns. They also announced they are supporting an injunction filed against HB1 days after protestors took the highway and attorney David Winker says the lack of enforcement in one instance weakens the law.

"Governor, you made a mistake. Your words have come back to haunt you. Repeal this law and let's admit that it's wrong," said David Winker.

The group adds 'ironic HB1' was sponsored by Cuban American Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin, who represents portions of Miami-Dade.

"So what is it, do we not have injustice in this county and can we not protest the injustices in this country? Are you saying that the proper way to protest is only when you're protesting another country?" asked former state Sen. Dwight Bullard.

"We're simply calling on the governor to look his own hypocrisy," added Bullard.

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