Rain Johnson was peacefully exercising her First Amendment rights when she became the target of an illegal arrest. The police charged Rain with a noise ordinance violation, which is related to recently enacted laws in Florida, by Alt-Right Governor Ron DeSantis.
That permits them to arrest people who make noises louder than certain decibels, during daytime hours. And restrict where individuals can express their constitutional freedoms, freely without fear for their safety or arrest.
But according to Johnson’s mother, Lauren Johnson, the police decided that they were going to “make her their target and arrest her.”
“We were all chanting, ‘Pro-life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die,’” Lauren Johnson said in the video. “And my daughter has a bullhorn, and she starts chanting with everyone else. The police start coming over and they say, ‘You guys need to leave, you’re being too loud.’ And my daughter hands me the bullhorn and she says, ‘Mom, I’m going to keep chanting.”
Johnson continued chanting through a megaphone as police officers surrounded her. “She is 13 years old, and six police officers surround her,” Lauren Johnson said. “And they tell her she is under arrest, and she says, ‘For what?’ And they say, ‘You’re being too loud.’ And she says, ‘I have a megaphone, how can I not be loud?’”
After Johnson was placed in the back of a police cruiser, Lauren Johnson said she asked the officers why they were arresting her daughter. One officer allegedly responded, “Because we can.”
The arrest of Johnson has drawn criticism from civil rights organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida. In a statement, the organization said that the arrest “smacks of censorship” and called on the Lakeland Police Department to “cease and desist from violating Floridians’ First Amendment rights.”
“The actions of the Lakeland Police Department are an egregious violation of the First Amendment,” the statement said. “Police cannot and should not be in the business of silencing speech they disagree with by arresting people for exercising their constitutional rights.”
The ACLU also said that it is considering taking legal action against the police department.
Johnson was released from custody later that day and her mother says she is planning to continue protesting.
“She is very shaken up, but she is also very empowered,” Lauren Johnson said. “She feels like she did something really important today and she is not going to back down.”
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