3,000 Attend Block Party in Deland, FL

 

You didn’t misread the title of this post, but it doesn’t accurately describe the actual event, nor does it suggest the dangerous implications of this type of activity given concerns about the outbreak of COVID-19. Gov. Ron DeSantis has done a very good job of managing Florida through COVID-19, but in spite of his efforts, we’re seeing eruptions like the one described in this post. If other states don’t act quickly to lighten the restrictions on its citizens, we may very well see civil violence and destruction across the country.

Let me summarize the way the gathering on Saturday, May 16, took place and how it was conveniently mischaracterized. First, some people tried to characterize its origins with a planned memorial:

A block party that drew 3,000 people to the Spring Hill neighborhood on Saturday and spiraled out of control had nothing to do with a memorial held earlier in the day to honor a gun violence victim, a family member said on Tuesday.

But the party occurred in the 1200 block of South Delaware Avenue and not at 710 W. Cincinnati Ave. where a memorial for Kenya Alexander was held, said his cousin Javi Renee Collier.

Second, this “party” took place in several DeLand locations, not in any one “block.” Third, that evening the party turned ugly:

Law enforcement, which also included DeLand police, said they were met with weapons pointed at officers as well as bar stools, bottles and jars were thrown at them.

Around 10:30 p.m., a passenger in a vehicle pointed a weapon out the window, in the direction of a deputy and pedestrians while at a gas station at Beresford and Spring Garden avenues.

Just after midnight, at the 1200 block of South Delaware Avenue, two men, later identified as Alphonso Parker and Charles Turner, exchanged gunfire around a crowd of roughly 1,500.

Fourth, to deflect the criticism of their irresponsible behavior, members of the crowd described the incidents as racially motivated, and the sheriff and police chief pushed back —sort of:

‘Because the majority of those in the crowd were black, and the deputies and police were white, we are now having … hard conversations about race, racism and inequality,’ Chitwood said in a statement. ‘I don’t accept the accusations that our deputies and police are racists, or that their actions Saturday were racially motivated. It’s not true, and it’s not a fair conclusion from the video.’

I know that large events are taking place all over the country. If we expect to get through this pandemic without major civil disobedience, the governors and President Trump are going to have to take a hard look at how they are managing this process for protecting the public. We are setting ourselves up for disruptions if our rights to assemble and gather are not restored.

The fact is, most of the shutdowns (whether effective or not) only worked because the public cooperated. Weddings were radically modified or postponed; sporting events were canceled; people observed wearing masks, washing their hands, and maintaining social distancing. We wanted to protect each other and our communities. The inconvenience seemed worth the risks, to make sure we didn’t overwhelm our hospitals.

* * * * *

But that time has come and gone. People are losing their jobs and their sanity. They agreed to a deal but the governors have reneged, primarily out of fear of the unknown. We are all getting angry and impatient with their radical decisions. And people, who may have felt disenfranchised and isolated in general, are chomping at the bit to lash out at the powers-that-be.

Particularly in low- to middle-class communities of black people, the potential for protests and violence are greater. Of course, not all black people are angry in this period of shutdowns. But when they are joined by the few people who are angry, the frustration and rage will be contagious. When you add the tendency to blame law enforcement for the community misbehavior (particularly when the police and sheriff’s deputies are almost all white, working in a predominantly black community) the danger signs are there.

And, there are people who are looking for reasons to destroy civil order and community relationships. Southern Poverty Law Center, which blames white supremacy for the formation of radical black groups, has published a long list of extremist black groups. We have no way of knowing whether their radical ideas extend to violence, but do we really want to test out their goals?

Law enforcement also has a role to play in shutting down this type of lawlessness. Leaders of law enforcement, when the facts support their position, must protest the accusations of racism. Even if the black community disputes their claims in spite of the evidence, such as videos and appropriate orders given to the officers, they must speak out loud and clear.

There was also this observation:

Although large gatherings are discouraged during the COVID-19 outbreak, they are not against the law. Both Police Chief Umberger and Sheriff Chitwood were clear that the police would not enforce social distancing.

‘It’s a personal responsibility. It’s not law enforcement’s job to enforce quote-unquote, social distancing.’ Chitwood said.

He noted large groups have been gathering against Department of Health recommendations in other areas of the county. [My italics]

It would be interesting to know the nature and size of these other gatherings in the county. These inconsistencies in policy application aren’t helpful to any members of the community.

* * * * *

A key question to ask is whether these violent gatherings were due to the restrictions of COVID-19? Or were they random parties that happened to turn violent? And what are we to do with citizens who ignore suggestions not to schedule large gatherings? Since they are legally allowed to gather, should we turn our back until and when violence erupts? These are the questions we have to face and answer.

If we don’t want the incidents of civil disorder (as opposed to lawful protests) to escalate, the governors must act in concert with law enforcement.

Let’s hope it’s not too late to dial back the discord.

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  1. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Fritz (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    The term “Block Party” in this incident is probably a gang party. Rival gangsters show up and eventually it deteriorates into a gang fight. This happens at a gangbanger’s funeral as well. The same thing happens when a biker gang throws a party on a road trip. Rival gangs show up because the word goes out and old scores are settled at some point during the event.

    Some people are there to fight, and they use a crowded event to act out.

    Now that is interesting, @dougwatt! Do you see the potential for more of these incidents, given all the lockdowns across the country and the heat of summer approaching?

    Criminals have adapted to the lockdown. No bail holds and releasing criminals due to Corona Virus will not help the situation. When it comes to gang activity some shootings occurred at nightclubs. They’re are closed so when someone posts a block party event on social media that attracts a large crowd.

    I believe that criminal activity has been under-reported during the lockdown. No bail holds are a social justice warrior program. Releasing someone that cannot obey the bigger laws with the expectation that they will shelter in place, and behave themselves is idiotic.

    Yeah, but as they’re arresting barbers and stylists who won’t grovel and stay shut down, then the obvious answer to the SJW (like WA Gov. Inslee) is to release a thousand felons from prison and make room for the shutdown violators. /sarc

    Grrrr. They said they’d only release ‘nonviolent’ felons. One such was serving time for a conviction of being a felon unlawfully in possession of a gun (doesn’t that just shout ‘nonviolent’?). He has now been re-arrested after cutting off his ankle monitor, doing meth for 14 days and not sleeeping the last 7, then violently attacking a 60-something year old woman out for her usual walk. And it gets almost no press. Because mustn’t rile up the peasants.

    Some Sheriff’s are fighting back against this nonsense, and more unions that represent street cops are beginning to fight back as well. They view these shutdown rules as unconstitional. They know the difference between people who want go back to work and those who need to be incarcerated. Unfortunately there are admin cops that cannot make that distinction.  

     

    • #31
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Southern Pessimist (View Comment):

    Clearly this block party was different from those that my neighborhood throws, but I am beginning to think that activities such as this have almost no impact on the spread of covid-19.

    I don’t know, @southernpessimist. What makes you think there’s no impact?

    • #32
  3. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    Its memorial day weekend?  Isnt this going to get really crazy as I predicted at the middle of April?

    • #33
  4. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser
    @Buckpasser

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    Its memorial day weekend? Isnt this going to get really crazy as I predicted at the middle of April?

    Yes.  The civil disobedience window is closing and he uncivil disobedience window is opening.

    • #34
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Buckpasser (View Comment):

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    Its memorial day weekend? Isnt this going to get really crazy as I predicted at the middle of April?

    Yes. The civil disobedience window is closing and he uncivil disobedience window is opening.

    This is one time I hope that you, @buckpasser, and @torywarwriter, are wrong. The combination of anger and restlessness and the early heat could be deadly.

    • #35
  6. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Southern Pessimist (View Comment):

    Clearly this block party was different from those that my neighborhood throws, but I am beginning to think that activities such as this have almost no impact on the spread of covid-19.

    I don’t know, @southernpessimist. What makes you think there’s no impact?

    When all is said and done, I suspect 70% of deaths will be in nursing homes and similar compromised patients and what you and I do in public is not going to have much impact on that. We haven’t figured out why so many people are asymptomatic but the innate immune response of T cells which is separate from the immune globulin antibody system seem to be protective in very large percentages of the population. I am ready to open everything up and let those of us who appear to be at greater risk make our own choice. I have some risk but feel like I am ready.

    • #36
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Southern Pessimist (View Comment):
    I have some risk but feel like I am ready.

    You assessment sounds reasonable about the nursing homes. I’m already going out a bit and ready to do more. It’s time.

    • #37
  8. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Southern Pessimist (View Comment):
    I have some risk but feel like I am ready.

    You assessment sounds reasonable about the nursing homes. I’m already going out a bit and ready to do more. It’s time.

    That said, I am not stupid. I have already arranged for my physician to prescribe a two week supply of hydroxycloroquine when and if I get a fever along with any other likely symptom. I already take zinc and vitaminD. I will add azythromycin and steroids if I get significant lower respiratory symptoms.

    • #38
  9. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    I assume by now everyone at Ricochet has checked in with their physician to find out how they should proceed if they get sick. If not why not?

    • #39
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