So what crimes may have the New Black Panthers committed in Florida with their threats toward George Zimmerman?
Let’s start with solicitation to kidnap. In announcing a reward for the seizure of Zimmerman, the New Black Panthers may have violated Florida Code 787.01. It makes it a felony to “by threat, confining or abducting, or imprisoning another person against his . . . will without lawful authority with intent to . . . terrorize.”
Merely soliciting someone else to do this is also a felony in Florida under Florida Code 777.04. “A person who solicits another to commit an offense prohibited by law and in the course of such solicitation commands, encourages, hires, or requests another person to engage in specific conduct which would constitute such offense or an attempt to commit such offense commits the offense of criminal solicitation.”
The solicitation and threat to seize Zimmerman may also constitute a crime under Florida Code 876.35. The felony of “combination against part of the people of the state” occurs when someone is unlawfully seized by a mob, or at the behest of a mob. Think of a small town jail 100 years ago and an angry crowd, armed with rope, demanding a particular inmate. Sound familiar?
Florida Code 876.35 defines the crime: “to remove them forcibly out of this state, or to remove them from their habitations to any other part of the state by force, or [when people] shall assemble for that purpose.” Remember, solicitation to commit a crime is in itself a crime.
Florida Code 876.34 even makes it a felony to “interfere forcibly in the administration of the government.”
Florida has an oddball law which may play a role as the facts of the Trayvon Martin case become clearer. Florida Code 843.20 is a criminal provision titled “Harassment of participant of neighborhood crime watch program.” It makes it a misdemeanor to threaten or intimidate a member of a neighborhood crime watch program “while such member is engaged in. . . an organized neighborhood crime watch program activity.” The law says that a neighborhood patrol includes a “crime watch program activity.” Of course, Zimmerman was on his neighborhood crime watch patrol when the tragic incident occurred.
This awful mess in Sanford is bad enough without the shrill race agitators like the New Black Panthers throwing gasoline on the fire.
But free speech is free speech, until you make threats and offer money to people to commit crimes.
There was a time in this country when criminal threats were treated as criminal threats. There was a time when stalking polls on election day with a billy club was taken seriously. Obviously we’ve lost something precious when thugs command the attention of a media unwilling to label them as thugs. We’ve lost something precious when the most vile vigilantism not only goes unpunished, but seems to attract defenders, benefactors, and fans.