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Local Republican arrested for protesting gun prohibition at DeSantis speech

Photo courtesy of Chris Rose

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

ALACHUA, Fla. – Chris Rose, a “pro-DeSantis, pro-2nd Amendment Republican,” was arrested last week for protesting outside a Republican fundraiser at Legacy Park Multipurpose Center in Alachua. 

The Black Tie Blue Jeans event on October 20 was organized by the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee (ACREC); the annual event is their biggest fundraiser, and this year’s event attracted a record attendance of close to a thousand people because Governor Ron DeSantis was the featured speaker. However, the ACREC learned about four days before the event that guns would not be permitted, and messages were sent to attendees that there would be a metal detector at the door.

Rose decided to protest the gun prohibition and arrived at the event a little after 4:00 p.m. to hold a sign that said, “I will not be disarmed by DeSantis” on the sidewalk, about halfway between the entrance to the Multipurpose Center and the playground that is across the circular driveway. Within a few minutes, he was approached by an employee of the private security company that was screening entrants, Colorado Security; we were unable to learn whether they were working for the governor’s campaign because the campaign did not respond to our request for comment. Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is responsible for the governor’s security, also did not respond to our questions about the event.

Rose said that an Alachua Police Department (APD) officer arrived shortly after the private security guard and told him that the private security guard was the Event Manager. More officers also arrived, and they all walked with Rose up the driveway, away from the building. Rose said that he pointed out that he was on a public sidewalk and not inside the event and asked for clarification on which parts of the property had been rented to the ACREC. At that point, an officer made a phone call, then the other officers drifted away; Rose remained up the driveway with one officer.

Rose said that after about 20 minutes, the officer said he had an answer through his chain of command that the City Manager said, “The sidewalk is open.” We were unable to confirm this with Alachua City Manager Mike DaRoza, who said, “[Our Chief of Police] has provided as much [information] as I could offer.” However, APD Chief Jesse Sandusky told us he wasn’t involved in that conversation.

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Rose went back down to the sidewalk, and within a few minutes, he was again approached by the Event Manager, who brought APD officers with him. Rose said the Event Manager told him, “If you don’t leave, you’ll be trespassed. If you return, you’ll be arrested.” Rose told us he fully expected to be trespassed and planned to leave after receiving the trespass notice, but he wanted to actually be trespassed to preserve an opportunity for future legal action. Rose said that he respectfully said he would not leave, and the officer handcuffed him, put him in a patrol car, and drove him down to the end of the driveway, where officers spent some time writing the arrest report. Rose said he was surprised to learn that he was being taken to jail.

Photo courtesy Luis Valdes

The arrest report states, “The defendant asked if he could hold his sign on the sidewalk and not within the confines of the building. This was permitted until the defendant relocated to a sidewalk connecting to the building at the entrance of the building. Security for the event then approached [a Detective] and asked that the defendant be removed from the event.” However, Rose says he was at the same spot on the sidewalk during both instances when he was approached by officers.

Chief Sandusky and Rose both acknowledged that Rose was told he could go to an area that had been designated as a protest zone, but Rose said he didn’t want to go to that area and believed he had a right to be on the public sidewalk as long as he didn’t block the path of people who were attending the event. Rose also emphasized that he had just been told he could be on the sidewalk.

Chief Sandusky told us that Rose was polite and respectful at all times, but “they gave him ample opportunity to leave, and he refused.” 

Rose spent the night in jail.

Ed Braddy, Chairman of ACREC, told us that the lease agreement was for the building and the parking lot, but he was unsure about whether the sidewalks were included; our public records request for the lease agreement has not yet been filled. Braddy said, “I think the whole situation is unfortunate and certainly not something we wanted to happen.”

Luis Valdes of Gun Owners of America was also protesting outside the event, although he was farther away from the building. He told us, “As Gun Owners of America’s Florida State Director, we in no way think the governor is anti-gun, nor do we think that he would in any way support gun-free zones in his own events. We think the issue lies with a known anti-gun establishment within Republican circles in Florida, and sadly that may have influenced his campaign. We thank the governor for openly calling for the passage of Constitutional Carry, and we thank him for pledging to accomplish that before he leaves office.”

The people we spoke with in connection with the event said they did not know who made the decision to prohibit guns at the event; various people suggested it might have been the campaign, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, or even the Republican Party of Florida. Our requests for comment to all three of those entities went unanswered.

Eric Friday, General Counsel for Florida Carry, told us, “As usual when government starts covering things up, it raises more questions than it answers, and the public deserves to know the truth and the answers to the questions that are being asked in this case.”

Newberry Commissioner Tim Marden purchased a ticket to the event but decided not to attend because of the prohibition on guns. In a written response, Marden told us, “After some consideration, I chose not to attend in light of the event being turned into a gun-free zone, which flies in the face of a pro-Second Amendment stance. You can’t claim to be pro-2A and have these sorts of restrictions. That is no different than criticisms I have of the elites in Hollywood wanting to be perceived as Anti-Gun but be surrounded by security packing heat. Either you are or you aren’t. With regard to Chris [Rose], I am disappointed this was escalated to the level of an arrest. I personally know Chris to be an ardent supporter of civil liberties. One of the best in our area. It is interesting this started as a Second Amendment issue and ended up being a First Amendment issue. At first glance, I think Chris had every right to be on the sidewalk and possibly the Governor’s event security overstepped just trying to protect the optics and image of the event and the Governor. We shall see. But I’m proud of Chris for standing up.”  

  • People are just stupid.

    I get it, you want to exercise your rights but weapons were specifically prohibited. Hopefully if he didn’t have any neither did anyone else. It’s for everyone’s protection…hopefully.
    Try going into a courthouse and see how well that works for you.
    You can’t yell “fire!” in a crowded theater or “bomb!” on a plane either.

    Knucklehead(s)

    • “You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater,” was written by a career authoritarian in an opinion that limited free speech and was overturned more than four decades ago.

      Disarming someone “for safety” is exactly what Democrats are claiming to be doing with gun control. Are we going to give Republicans a pass when they act like Democrats?

      • So let me see if I understand you correctly. You don’t feel there should be any limitations on the right to carry arms? You may hope, may even think, that all those carrying concealed weapons are of the correct mindset 100% of the time. I believe that recent history has disproven that theory.

        While many of us applaud Governor DeSantis and what he has done for the state, there are many who would disagree. I think the authorities did what they may have seen as an opportunity to lessen the chances of just such a knucklehead seeking fame. Think of it as leaving legal prescription drugs on the kitchen table in the home of a preschooler. It may be legal, but we don’t want to tempt a child.

  • This is the only time guns were not permitted to my knowledge and it was due to the governor being the speaker. I had no issue with it. I also applauded the security company and APD who were outstanding and professional.

  • Just be glad DeSantis decided to come here at all. No need to remove any doubt the governor might have about people in this area being backwards and boneheaded.

    • Removes any doubt that I had that DeSantis is anything but another establishment Republican politician.

      • He is a member of the Florida Bar Association. One cannot be much more establishment that that

  • It seems as if DeSANTIS has something against the Right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech…trump really has been working on DeSANTIS…teaching him to be an idiot, which trump clearly has done already…I’ll keep saying it…BEWARE OF tRUMP. HE IS DANGEROUS, EVEN OUT OF OFFICE! Heads up people.

  • You can carry a concealed weapon in the Capitol, and even in the Governor’s office. Quit giving Republicans a pass when they act like Democrats. This is why Cato rates Florida 35th on gun rights.

  • i just wish someone would have driven him around the county to show off our road conditions. we need federal help for the damage from 30 yrs from “Hurricane Democrats”

    • You do realize that Florida has had a Republican governor every year since 1999 do you not? LOL

  • a patriot with a set of testicals unfortunately the incompetent alachua PD has got them in a vice! Good Luck Rose.

    • This is the stuff that voter need to know, that law suits stem from. The police screwed this up, likely due to some squeaky elected official. This is the crime, failure to perform. The Chief of Managers should of told the politician to shut up.

  • There’s nothing to fear when you have a lawful citizen that’s licensed…this is a black eye for Desantis.

  • Thank the Florida republican party and an ill-trained Alachua PD for an illegal arrest.
    It is well known that the republican held house and senate do not want an armed population.
    If they did, we would have constitutional carry here. Vote wisely my friends.

  • The 1st mistake is hiring Colorado Security. Colorado is a very blue state very blue ideology and biases. 2nd if he had been a demonrat he wouldn’t have been arrested.

    • Colorado Security Agency is a Washinton DC firm that provides private security to corporations, CEOs and such. I assume they picked the name so their initials could be CSA.

  • They shouldn’t have arrested him…
    He did nothing wrong. He was not a threat. He’s a freedom loving constitutionalist. God bless him. A brave man defending our god given freedom. No charges should be filed.
    The case should be dropped.

  • One thing about republicans, they’re going to do something dumb 10 out of 10 times!

  • What’s apparent is the control and influence politicians have over their followers.

    Out with rules, restrictions and laws unless they fall in line with a particular party affiliation and then, a person will only adhere to those mandates if they feel they should apply to them.

    Maybe it’s not society that is devolving but an individual’s feeling that they matter more than anyone else

  • I need some clarification as to where exactly this “sidewalk” is.ont On the street? On the property leading to the street I.e private property? I fully respect his right to protest but location matters.

    • Legacy Park is a 100 acre public recreational park open to the public except for areas rented and paid for by a renting party. The ACREC rented only the Multipurpose Building. They did not rent the playground, the parking lot, the amphitheatre, the soccer field, the roadways or the sidewalks. These were open to the public as a public park. The ACREC also contracted to hire 4 off duty Alachua Police as extra security. ACREC Chair Ed Braddy is quoted in the above article saying they only rented the building.
      .
      Arrest record 012022MM00209A for trespassing for Chris Rose was written and SWORN by APD 345 Andrew Payne III. I hope Mr. Rose gets a good Ist Amendment lawyer and sues the crap out of all involved, as the SWORN complaint contains this pure outright lie: “Christopher Rose was observed by law enforcement at Legacy Park during a private event. The private event requires paid admission to access Legacy Park which the defendant did not have a ticket or wrist band to attend the event.” WRONG. This is perjury under oath by APD Officer Payne. Only the interior of the Multipurpose Building was rented and off limits to the public who did not have a ticket. The rest of the park was open to the public.
      .
      Nowhere in the arrest report does it identify the complaining party, the “Event Director.” The fact that an anonymous person can order the Alachua Police to arrest someone is absolutely wrong. Put me on a Federal Grand Jury and the Event Director is going to jail for the Federal Civil Rights violation of Mr. Rose’s First Amendment rights. IMHO.

  • I am making a new Halloween costume.
    I wear a black leather STASI coat and become an Anonymous Event Manager ordering police “arrest that man and take away his First Amendment Rights.”
    As an American that is the scariest costume I can imagine.

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