A protester is facing charges after spray-painting “BLM” on a pillar attached to the West Palm Beach police department. Police reported that the protester did at least $200 worth of damage.
The incident occurred during the Juneteeth demonstration in downtown West Palm Beach. Around 50 gathered around gathered near the southeast side of the police department. The crowd eventually dispersed to continue their march and one officer noticed that someone had spraypainted “BLM” in black paint.
Surveillance video later showed Alissa Thomas carrying a can of spray paint and later tagging the pillar.
Police approached Thomas and demanded that she come to them. When she refused, the officer grabbed her and told her she was under arrest. Thomas attempted to pull away from the officer on several occasions, but they were eventually able to get her cuffed and into the back of a squad car.
Police recovered spray paint and a stun gun from Thomas’ backpack. She is being charged with criminal mischief, resisting an officer without violence, and carrying a concealed weapon.
Tempers are running hot right now on both sides, but it seems odd that police would go out of their way to hunt down protester for a $200 property crime. Of course, the type of charge the protester faces is not relevant to the police. The police are trying to send a message to protesters that they must work within the law. Unfortunately for police, their track record with protesters operating within the law is not very good either. But yes, the question of why police expended so much effort to track down one protester is worth asking.
Criminal mischief causing damage of less than $200 is considered a misdemeanor of the second degree. It is the lowest possible criminal charge on the books. If you’re among the seething masses who are wondering why the police were never able to find your stolen bike, it’s stories like these that will enrage you.
Why Bother Hunting Down the Protester?
The cops went out of their way to find someone for whom the highest possible penalty was 6 months in county (which never happens) and a $500 fine. They then escalated the situation in pursuit of a charge of second-degree misdemeanor hoping that Thomas would do something like she did and resist arrest.
Stun guns are legal to own in Florida, but only for the purposes of self-defense. The only stipulation is that you cannot have a felony on your record. Florida does not require a license to purchase or own a stun gun. In other words, it’s not apparent that Thomas has committed any offense by owning the stun gun. And the resisting charge is related to the unnecessary escalation of a very minor offense.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you’ve been charged with a crime related to protesting police oppression, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to learn more about our services and how we can help you keep your record clean.