“Enticing The Crowd With Music”: Miami Police Charge Rapper With Rioting Offenses

There was rioting in Miami Beach over the last week as spring breakers vandalized property, blocked streets, and attacked police. At least five officers were injured. One of those charged was Javon Washington, 30, faces an array of charges due to his role in playing music and encouraging defiance of the police. I have serious reservations about some of those charges, including resisting arrest without violence (which I have criticized in the past as dangerously ill-defined as a criminal provision).
     On the second night of the 8 pm curfew, police confronted hundreds of people partying in the street in South Beach. There were clearly legitimate arrests on that night as individuals destroyed property and assaulted police.
     However, Washington’s charges seemed based on his playing music at the scene. The charging papers state that he was “observed playing music from a speaker, enticing those around to engage in unruly behavior.” He is accused of “enticing people to wreck vehicles” and “causing subjects to make obscene gestures toward officers and taunt officers.”
     There appears ample evidence that he was breaching the peace, and violating the noise ordinance. Washington used what is described as a $20 speaker to work up the crowd and to resist police.
      There may also be clear proof of violating the curfew, but the corner of the incident is arguably outside of the curfew area. However, I am more concerned two of the charges resisting arrest without violence and inciting a riot.
     I will not repeat my past objections to the crime of resisting arrest without violence but it is written to allow even slight movement to allow for a criminal charge.      Here is the provision:

843.02 Resisting officer without violence to his or her person.Whoever shall resist, obstruct, or oppose any officer as defined in s. 943.10(1), (2), (3), (6), (7), (8), or (9); member of the Florida Commission on Offender Review or any administrative aide or supervisor employed by the commission; county probation officer; parole and probation supervisor; personnel or representative of the Department of Law Enforcement; or other person legally authorized to execute process in the execution of legal process or in the lawful execution of any legal duty, without offering or doing violence to the person of the officer, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

Resisting or opposing without violence is incredibly vague and allows for prosecutors to stack on additional charges (which add pressure for defendants to accept plea agreements). What constitutes resisting can apparently be as little as tensing an arm or moving as restraints are being applied.  That creates a dangerously fluid and subjective basis for criminal charge, even a misdemeanor.

The most serious charge is the  third-degree felony which can lead to up to five years in prison. Yet, the police charges refer ambiguously to “officers observed the defendant enticing the crowd with music from speakers.”

Enticing with music?  That seems a pretty dangerous foundation for a serious criminal offense of rioting.  Washington made this point, though he seemed to admit to breaking he curfew in an interview where he declared “I’m sorry for breaking curfew. I didn’t start no riot. At the end, I feel like somebody had to get in trouble and since I had the speaker and the big problems were gone, they locked me up.”

I have to agree with Washington on the basis of the riot charges. If the police have evidence of Washington’s rioting, they should produce that evidence. Playing music certainly can breach the peace and gather a crowd. It is not an element to the crime of rioting in my view.

Here are the provisions:

870.01 Affrays and riots.

(1) All persons guilty of an affray shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2) All persons guilty of a riot, or of inciting or encouraging a riot, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

870.02 Unlawful assemblies.If three or more persons meet together to commit a breach of the peace, or to do any other unlawful act, each of them shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

870.03 Riots and routs.If any persons unlawfully assembled demolish, pull down or destroy, or begin to demolish, pull down or destroy, any dwelling house or other building, or any ship or vessel, each of them shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Section 870.03 uses active verbs of demolishing, pulling down or destroying property — not creating circumstances that might or might not lead to rioting.
      A similar issue could also be raised in the cases being prepared by the federal government over the January 6th riot in Congress. Federal prosecutors have already used lesser charges like trespass for many of those arrested though some have suggested an array of sedition charges are coming.

22 thoughts on ““Enticing The Crowd With Music”: Miami Police Charge Rapper With Rioting Offenses”

  1. A new look at Parler and the Big Tech trying to big foot it.


    When Parler first filed their suit in District Court for the Western District of Washington I scanned their pleadings and thought that they had a very good chance of winning at trial and possibly even winning a motion for summary judgment.

    Unfortunately almost the first remarks of the judge suggested to me that her mind was hopelessly biased, beyond recovery with a presentation of mere facts and law, and was fundamentally political.

    I was sorry to see Parler drop the suit, but they risked proceeding with a biased judge and having the issue res judicata against them.

    Now they have filed in the Superior Court for the State of Washington and one hopes they will get a judge who will at least make an effort to be judicially neutral and decide on the facts and the law rather than deciding on the prevailing, and slightly insane, political climate.

  2. I haven’t followed the Miami situation closely, but from what I’ve seen, the celebrators were “spring breakers” in name only. It appears to have been a gathering of people of color, mostly black, just like the annual event in Galveston, Texas that is also accompanied by violence and destruction. Miami South Beach is not a normal spring break destination. Spring breakers usually go to Fort Lauderdale and Daytona.

    1. True. Several years ago Miami Beach made the mistake of holding an “Urban **”” week. I don’t recall the full name. They came to regret it because of the crime and violence but it was too late.

      1. Atlanta has had its share of unintended consequences along these lines, too.

  3. Big fan of law and order, but stacked and superfluous charges need to be thrown out. If I serve on a jury, I will make a point of it.

    Also agree with many commenters on more prosecutorial accountability. Right now, in every Democrat politician and bureaucrat, there’s a Mike Nifong screaming to get out.

    1. Diogenes– I was going to make a comment but I don’t need to. You said everything I hoped to say.

  4. “Enticing the crowd with music?” This isn’t Saudi Arabia.

    As a layperson, I think resisting arrest should include violence or any activity that could harm a police officer, such as if a large person deliberately drops on the ground, and the cop’s back goes out.

    Shame on the spring breakers. Throw the book at those who assault police officers, riot, or destroy property. But this particular man seems over charged.

  5. Do you ever listen to the lyrics? Since NWA wrap lyrics certainly applaud acts of violence if not encourage by justification. Hate Cops. Hate Whitey. Burn it Down. Shoot and Kill.

    And let’s be clear. BLM is not protesting the death of that baby girl who was living on the south side of Chicago. No, they have martyred Thugs and Felons. George Floyd was both. Bouncer, Doper, Thief. Passing a Hot 20. With the load he had on he would naturally arose suspicion. That’s what addiction does to you. Sad I’ll agree. Preventable; Maybe. But does his death warrant riots and arson?

    Granted the video triggered a pent up burst of anger, but it was supported and encouraged by the media and even politicians like our VP who contributed to a bail fund and no bail laws. So now it’s what can you get away with doing?

    I don’t know if was enough to charge a felony for doing something you’re paid to do as an entertainer, but I like the misdemeanor charge. If our prosecutors were more honorable as a group then you wouldn’t worry about over charging and manipulation. It’s supposed to be about justice.

    In a better system a good lawyer would make the prosecutor to try those charges with a jury. Even a judge as a trier of fact should press the prosecutor on the relevance of the charges. Pity that so many are former prosecutors and tend to continue in that role from the bench.

    Aren’t we all supposed to be Doing Better?

  6. If you remember the movie “Where the Boys Are” well this group ain’t.

  7. Constant pendulum between underpolicing (Portland) and overpolicing (this article).

    No perfect answer, but let’s start with removing qualified immunity for cops. That increases accountability andmay lead to better judgment calls.

    Remove prosecutor immunity. Again, consequences.

    And enforce laws evenly for offenders. Certainty of punishment concentrates the mind.

    1. I would limit but not eliminate QA for cops, who have to make split second life/death decisions. Prosecutors do not face that, their decisions are always carefully calculated and they should be liable for egregious behavior

    2. Monumentcolorado:

      If you removed qualified immunity for cops, they would either all quit, or not lift a finger. How could they? If a perp slips and falls while running from police, he could sue the cops personally.

      A cop’s salary can’t handle that level of lawsuits.

      They would become “security monitors.” “Hey, you’re being robbed.” “Well, DO something!” “Uh, no. I’m just a monitor. I can’t arrest this guy. He’ll sue me.”

      1. Rap is not music neither was beatnik bongo it is very bad poetry. He’ll never be a Bob Dylan. Too illiterate. May be more in the genre of socialism as a failure?

      2. Exactly how it works in real life. Even SCOTUS Agreed. My comment back then was why should I risk my life for people who don’t care about their own life. SCOTUS put in official language when they said police are not their to do anything but investigate after the fact. It’s not the police duty to protect it’s the duty of the Citizen.
        Then I found out the police force more dirty than Congress and the military more dirty than either one of the other two.

        25 years infantry, 3 years police and happily never dirtied myself in congress.

        Constitutional Centrist Coalition and Objectivist

      3. We are describing two ends of the spectrum.

        Where we are today is too far in one direction.

        Society has to find the balance.

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