I almost didn’t write this – and that would have been wrong, making me just as guilty as the Mayor and Police department. I too have been damaged by mob action against my speech and action so naturally think twice before pointing out their tyranny. But allowing them to dominate my speech would grant the mob the heckler’s veto – they would win through force alone. So let’s be clear, the Mob should not be able to oppress the rights of others. The mob, this week in the form of the Uhuru group in St. Petersburg, was engaged in the latest example of liberal intolerance and verbal violence at the St. Petersburg candidate forum on Monday. They stood and shouted. The harassed. They refused to stop. The ended an event that was well attended by the public intent on learning the views of various candidates they will choose from in a legal election. The Chief of police and Mayor Rick Kriseman stood by silently, falsely standing behind a claim to allow “free speech”. The fact is that Mayor Kriseman and the Police chief were acting as cowards in the face of illegal activity that was actually violating free speech. This is how rule of law ends and mobs and thugs end up running the lives of ordinary citizens.
There was only one appropriate act when faced by the Uhurus who were shouting down every candidate except the ones they liked – they should have been arrested. The video of the Uhurus showing the Uhuru’s disturbing the peace is on the Tampa Bay Times Website which also details the mob’s action –who shut down the event only 37 minutes after it began. According to the Times, the Uhurus were intentionally shouting down or jeering/yelling any time any other candidate besides theirs would speak. The Sister of City Council candidate Anthony Cates III was shouting “No debate, vote Cates”. That is the point of the mob. They will not tolerate any difference of opinion. Those who disagree with them must be oppressed and silenced. It is shouting now, but it is clear that other actions of oppression are favored and will ultimately become more violent. This includes blocking street intersections and sidewalks (as has occurred in St. Pete already). If left unchecked, police and Mayoral tolerance of the mob will end in vandalism, arson, looting, fires and riots (see Ferguson, Baltimore, Oakland, Portland and more).
The mayoral and city council candidates had just as much right to speak – more so – than anyone else in that room. They were invited and were the focus of the event. They were the only ones entitled to speak at the forum organized by the League of Women’s voters. The assembled audience had just as much right to hear the views and speech of the candidates. They had assembled, taking time out of their lives, to do their civic duty to be better informed. The League and the Neighborhood association that organized the event had every right to expect the event to proceed without audience members disrupting the event. Owners of the Hilton hotel where the event was held had every right to allow the event to proceed peacefully – they will now think twice before allowing another. The first amendment guarantees that the government will protect the natural right of “peaceable assembly”. That means shutting down mobs that disrupt the rights of others to assemble, speak and listen. There were only two people that stood up for that right that night: mayoral candidate Baker who asked for his right to speak, and long-time activist and mayoral candidate “MommaTee” Lassiter who pointed out that the Uhurus get away with this nonsense all the time and she is “over it”. She bravely went toe-to-toe with these thugs after the event ended prematurely – God bless her!
The law on this sort of loud and raucous behavior is clear (see figure above, and text below). The welfare of those assembled for a civic event was jeopardized by the intentional shouting down of audience members and the mob. City ordinances 11-47 to 11-56 on noise pollution covers this. The voices were amplified by shouting and by being placed in unison (see the “human megaphone” of “occupy wall street”) – overcoming the exemption for noise pollution from an “unamplified” human voice. It is noteworthy that the City of St. Petersburg fines electronic message sign owners for violating their ordinance to protect their perceived right to regulate speech, but the city government won’t even stop a mob in full rage. The founder of Sunbeam Times (yours truly, Dr. McKalip) had their law ruled unconstitutional, but the city tweaked the law language and continues to ban such moving text on signs of private business owners (but tolerates it on such signs at schools). The city government clearly plays politics when it comes to free speech –favoring some and oppressing others or allowing oppression by the mob.
The Mayor is charged with upholding the law. The Police are charged with protecting the public by upholding the law. They are failing. A society relies on rule of law – not the rule of man. As citizens we have created a government and charged it with protecting us through this delegation of power. We gave up our own liberty to arrest people and throw them in jail to ensure due process and equal justice under the law. When the government fails to uphold the laws with their citizen-delegated powers, then they allow any thug with a grudge to rule their neighbor or neighborhood. Why can’t any person or mob now simply walk into a church, city government meeting, or a private business and begin to shout excessively, block the door, and disrupt business or worse? If we call the police, will the owner of the establishment be told it is just an “expression of free speech”? Of course they shouldn’t. But that is the road we are on.
Why are we on the road to mob rule in St. Petersburg? Cowardice. Mayor Kriseman is afraid to tell the police to stand up to this mob for his own political reasons. Maybe he doesn’t want to be seen as initiating police action against a group of black people. If so, that is racist as it assumes that because people are a certain race, they should be treated differently. Maybe he doesn’t want to insist the police arrest those who break the law because it would hurt him politically. If so, then he is unworthy to hold the office. The police chief could also act, but clearly answers to the Mayor. That said, no police chief or police officer is required to consult with the mayor to enforce other illegal actions – running red lights, trespassing, breaking and entering, violent acts and more. The police should have arrested each person shouting and disrupting the event and hauled them away. Let them suffer the consequences and set an example for others to see about rule of law.
The Uhurus, black lives matter, liberal mobs who shout down college speeches and all other thugs, tyrants and terrorists are counting on citizens, business and property owners, the police and the government to acquiesces to their illegal mob activities. If we continue to tolerate the intolerance of the mob, then we are all just as guilty as the mob.
“St. Petersburg Noise Ordinance (excerpted)
Sec. 11-48. – Scope.
Excessive noise, when unnecessary to the carrying on of religious, political, civic or commercial activities, or when not generated in the course of other activity necessary to the carrying on of daily life, can create a significant threat to the public health, safety and welfare…..
“Sec. 11-51. – Noise disturbances prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for any person to make, continue or cause to be made or continued any noise disturbance or any loud and raucous noise within the limits of the City.”
Noise disturbance means any sound that:
(1) Endangers or injures the welfare, safety or health of humans or animals;
(2) Endangers or injures personal or real property;
(3) Annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities; or
(4) Is loud and raucous.