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MSNBC “The ReidOut” blogger Ja’han Jones accused Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., of turning Florida into an “international embarrassment” after a United Nations racial justice committee flagged the state leader’s anti-riot legislation for supposedly restricting free speech. 

Jones’ Wednesday blog, titled, “DeSantis has officially turned Florida into a global embarrassment,” opened with the declaration, “It’s official: Ron DeSantis has literally turned Florida into an international embarrassment.”

Explaining that a U.N. panel does not approve of DeSantis’ actions, Jones wrote, “The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Tuesday issued a report examining discrimination across the globe that name-checked Florida House Bill 1, an oppressive anti-protest law pushed by DeSantis, the state’s Republican governor.”

Florida House Bill 1, which was passed into law in April 2021, has been called DeSantis’ “anti-riot” bill. As Fox Digital reported at the time, the bill “increases penalties for crimes committed during riots and is aimed at ‘combating public disorder.’” Florida lawmakers proposed the bill in response to the Black Lives Matter riots ravaging cities throughout the summer of 2020.

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After the United Nations criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “anti-riot” bill, MSNBC blogger Ja’han Jones called Florida an “international embarrassment.”  
(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

During a press conference concerning the signing of the legislation, DeSantis described the bill, “If you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country. There’s just nothing even close.”

Though as Jones noted, the U.N. found the bill to be too extreme. The committee stated it was “concerned about reports of increasing legislative measures and initiatives at the state level that unduly restrict the right to peaceful assembly following antiracism protests in recent years, such as the HB1 Combating Public Disorder law in Florida.”

Seeing this U.N. warning as an opportunity to voice his own hatred for the bill, Jones discounted Republican’s fears over the riots that gave birth to the bill, claiming, “Republicans, seeking to redirect the national discourse away from racism, cherry-picked isolated incidents of violence in an effort to portray all antiracist protesters as dangerous and to delegitimize their cause.”  

Jones also claimed the bill is “a product of right-wing fearmongering.”

Explaining the bill on his terms, Jones added, “The law authorizes punitive action against anyone who ‘willfully participates in a violent public disturbance involving an assembly of three or more people.’ It’s a bill that’s dangerously, and deliberately, broad.”

He claimed, “As written, it means an anarchist or anyone in disguise can show up to an antiracist protest and intentionally cause damage or harm, potentially dragging peaceful protesters into a criminal probe.” 

A United Nations committee recently claimed it was "concerned about reports of increasing legislative measures and initiatives at the state level that unduly restrict the right to peaceful assembly following antiracism protests in recent years, such as the HB1 Combating Public Disorder law in Florida."

A United Nations committee recently claimed it was “concerned about reports of increasing legislative measures and initiatives at the state level that unduly restrict the right to peaceful assembly following antiracism protests in recent years, such as the HB1 Combating Public Disorder law in Florida.”

The blogger pointed to Florida civil rights activists who have “sounded the alarm on the potential for the law to be used to silence and harass protesters” to the U.N. itself. “Ben Frazier, founder of the civil rights advocacy group Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, was asked to testify before the U.N. committee in Geneva earlier this month, in advance of Tuesday’s report,” Jones reported. 

He also mentioned “multiple judges” who do not support the bill, including U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who “blocked major parts of the bill, including its broadened description of what constitutes a ‘riot,’ on grounds they violated the First Amendment.”

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Jones cited a DeSantis spokesperson’s retort to the U.N. committee, as reported by The Miami Herald. The spokesperson “said the people of Florida are the only ones with ‘any bearing on the governance,’” Jones reported.

On Wednesday, MSNBC blogger Ja'han Jones wrote of the U.N.'s assessment of Republican-led Florida: "…the U.N. committee’s report is the latest sign the world is taking notice of DeSantis-run Florida and its oppressive ways. He’s put his state on the global stage … just for all the wrong reasons."

On Wednesday, MSNBC blogger Ja’han Jones wrote of the U.N.’s assessment of Republican-led Florida: “…the U.N. committee’s report is the latest sign the world is taking notice of DeSantis-run Florida and its oppressive ways. He’s put his state on the global stage … just for all the wrong reasons.”
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Though Jones pushed back on this notion that DeSantis promotes the will of Florida residents, writing, “And DeSantis is the same guy who fought to overturn an amendment voters passed that would have helped millions of people with felony convictions vote.” He added, “And he did pressure state lawmakers to accept a racially discriminatory congressional map proposed by his own office that will help him consolidate power in the state and potentially the country.”

Jones concluded his blog, writing, “the U.N. committee’s report is the latest sign the world is taking notice of DeSantis-run Florida and its oppressive ways. He’s put his state on the global stage … just for all the wrong reasons.”

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