A sheriff in Polk County, Florida used visual aids to help explain the difference between a peaceful protest and a riot during a press conference Monday after Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled new legislation to address violent riots and attacks on police officers.
Sheriff Grady Judd took the stage armed with three sets of pictures to help reporters, attendees and Floridians differentiate between riots and peaceful protests.
“I can tell you folks, so that there is no misunderstanding today, this is a peaceful protest,” Judd said, holding an image of a large group of protesters congregated peacefully in front of a building. “This is a riot,” he continued, holding an image of what appears to be a vehicle on fire amid a pile of rubble.
“We can tell the difference. The governor can tell the difference. Our law enforcement officers can tell the difference,” he said. “In the event you didn’t get that, let me show you something,” Judd said as he whipped out a second set of images.
“This is a peaceful protest,” he said, flashing an image showing a protester holding up a sign that reads in part ‘protest peacefully.’ “This is looting,” he continued, holding another image showing a man carrying items while running. (RELATED: Florida Sheriff ‘Highly Recommending’ Home Owners ‘Blow’ Looters ‘Back Out Of The House With Their Guns’)
“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,” Judd said.
Judd then pulls out a final set of images to help him make the case.
“Some people are slow learners. This is peaceful protests,” he said, displaying an image showing individuals standing with their hands in the air. “This is violence,” he added, holding up a picture of a man smashing some type of stick through a car window.
“This is not acceptable.”
DeSantis introduced legislation Monday that would charge anyone involved in an assembly of 7 or more people where property is destroyed or someone gets injured would face felony charges. It also makes it a felony to block roadways and destroy public property, which includes toppling monuments.
The legislation would also defund any cities or local government that tries to defund their police department. If a state employee participates in a violent protest or disorderly assembly, they would lose their state benefits under the new legislation.
DeSantis has been tough on violent protests and riots, sending 500 Florida National Guard members to Washington D.C. in June to help handle the protests that turned violent.