Cuban American protestors shut down a section of the Palmetto Expressway in Miami, Florida, on July 13 to demonstrate unity toward the civil unrest that’s currently taking place in Cuba.
“We said, ‘We have to stop, and we have to stop on the Palmetto. That’s where we’re going to get the attention for the people,” a protester said.
“These are Cuban Americans. These are Cubans. People are suffering on the island. They’re dying, and it’s not because of COVID. They’re dying because they’re killing them, and for the first time in 60 years, that island has flipped upside down. They said that Camaguey has been taken over by the Cuban people.”
On April 29, 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an “anti-riot” bill into law in the wake of civil unrest that took place with George Floyd in 2020. The bill states that protestors could be arrested if a gathering could be considered a riot. Also, deems blocking a freeway as a felony and gives full immunity to persons who drive through protestors that are blocking a roadway.
DeSantis received a considerable amount of pushback from Democrats who felt that the bill was unfair and targets black and brown communities disproportionately.
Upon signing the bill, DeSantis stated that the bill is needed to protect Florida residents on the road.
“Just think about it: you’re driving home from work and all of the sudden, you have people out there shutting down a highway. We worked hard to make sure that didn’t happen in Florida,” said DeSantis. They start to do that, there needs to be swift penalties.”
Additionally, the bill protects monuments from being torn down in Florida by protestors.
“We also saw around the country people toppling monuments of people like George Washington,” DeSantis said. “This bill protects all monuments in Florida. You have no right to go in and take down monuments, we’re not going to let the mob win the day with that.”
During the protests, there weren’t any arrests made and the Miami-Dade Police Department redirected traffic for the protestors. This set off a firestorm on Twitter in relation to the treatment of Black Lives Matter protestors. Miami-Dade Police Department also issued a statement via Twitter regarding the protests.
“The safety of our community and safeguarding those that peacefully assemble is our top priority. We welcome those that wish to peacefully demonstrate; however, the obstruction of roadways is unacceptable and illegal. Officers are enforcing traffic laws to ensure the flow of traffic.”