TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Charges brought against Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried, Florida Senate Democratic Minority Leader Lauren Book, and nine others during an abortion protest in Tallahassee were dropped Friday, according to a notice from State Attorney Jack Campbell.
Tallahassee police said the demonstrators were peacefully protesting SB 300 on April 3 in front of City Hall, located across from the Florida Capitol. The group was permitted to protest until sundown when they were asked to leave.
Despite the orders and warnings from law enforcement that arrest was imminent, the group remained, singing in a circle. In all, 11 were arrested for trespassing and transported to the Leon County Jail. Authorities said they were completely compliant and peaceful.
Despite the protests, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law days later, banning abortions after six weeks.
“While there was probable cause for arrest, and the defendants were clearly attempting to be arrested, this office will not proceed further,” Campbell said in the document. “The purpose of the criminal justice system is to promote an orderly and safe society through imposing consequences for those who break our laws.”
“Here, the defendants have elected to use the criminal justice system to amplify their political agenda,” he added.
The attorney noted the state has “no interest in encouraging more unlawful behavior” by extending the protestor’s notoriety as they move through the justice system.
“Due to their lack of criminal history and their cooperation with officers, it is unlikely that the court would impose any meaningful sanction,” Campbell said.
“Those who choose to wantonly violate the rules we all share should expect to go to jail. Should this consequence prove insufficient, or if future protesters being arrested resist or otherwise assail law enforcement, greater penalties will be sought.”