MORE RETALIATION?: St. Augustine Beach Civic Association apparently had First Amendment hero Bill Rosenstock arrested, only eight days after he won a well-known First Amendment victory in St. Johns County Commission (and the very same day the St. Augustine Record printed Mr. Rosenstock letter to the editor praising Commissioners and local law enforcement for resisting pressures from the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association, whose longtime leader is St. Augustine Beach Mayor Andrea Samuels. Mr. Rosenstock's letter pointed out intimidation and harassment by SABCA, including tearing up his protest sign concerning beach parking issues, and manhandling a sign spinner.
The circumstances of Mr. Rosenstock's arrest today sound dubious -- he had unresolved concerns about a vendor. Is this still more ham handed behavior by SABCA? Smug line by reporter about Mr. Rosenstock not responding "immediately" to a telephone message: he was in jail until 8 PM! What a jejune thing to say! The Record must report the story, not just distort it. We do not trust handouts from St. Augustine Beach Police, all of whose jobs controversial St. Augustine Beach Mayor Andrea Samuels tried to abolish in 2011 in retaliation for their speaking out about alleged misconduct by Chief Richard Hedges. Here is the text of the Florida stalking statute, whose exceptions cover Mr. Rosenstock's First Amendment protected activity:
The 2015 Florida Statutes
ASSAULT; BATTERY; CULPABLE NEGLIGENCE
View Entire Chapter
784.048 Stalking; definitions; penalties.—
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Harass” means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.
(b) “Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose. The term does not include constitutionally protected activity such as picketing or other organized protests.
(c) “Credible threat” means a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm. It is not necessary to prove that the person making the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat. The present incarceration of the person making the threat is not a bar to prosecution under this section.
(d) “Cyberstalk” means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.
(2) A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(3) A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person and makes a credible threat to that person commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(4) A person who, after an injunction for protection against repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence pursuant to s. 784.046, or an injunction for protection against domestic violence pursuant to s. 741.30, or after any other court-imposed prohibition of conduct toward the subject person or that person’s property, knowingly, willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(5) A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks a child under 16 years of age commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(6) A law enforcement officer may arrest, without a warrant, any person that he or she has probable cause to believe has violated this section.
(7) A person who, after having been sentenced for a violation of s. 794.011, s. 800.04, or s. 847.0135(5) and prohibited from contacting the victim of the offense under s. 921.244, willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks the victim commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(8) The punishment imposed under this section shall run consecutive to any former sentence imposed for a conviction for any offense under s. 794.011, s. 800.04, or s. 847.0135(5).
(9)(a) The sentencing court shall consider, as a part of any sentence, issuing an order restraining the defendant from any contact with the victim, which may be valid for up to 10 years, as determined by the court. It is the intent of the Legislature that the length of any such order be based upon the seriousness of the facts before the court, the probability of future violations by the perpetrator, and the safety of the victim and his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the victim.
(b) The order may be issued by the court even if the defendant is sentenced to a state prison or a county jail or even if the imposition of the sentence is suspended and the defendant is placed on probation.
History.—s. 1, ch. 92-208; s. 29, ch. 94-134; s. 29, ch. 94-135; s. 2, ch. 97-27; s. 23, ch. 2002-55; s. 1, ch. 2003-23; s. 3, ch. 2004-17; s. 3, ch. 2004-256; s. 17, ch. 2008-172; s. 2, ch. 2012-153.
Here is the shallow article printed by the Record's reporter, without speaking to Mr. Rosenstock or his attorney(s).
St. Augustine Beach resident arrested on stalking charge
Posted: August 12, 2015 - 11:43pm
A St. Augustine Beach resident and regular participant at local government meetings has been arrested on a stalking charge.
Bill Rosenstock, 73, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on the charge by the St. Augustine Beach Police Department, according to a report from the department.
A message left for Rosenstock on Wednesday was not immediately returned.
Rosenstock appears frequently at St. Augustine Beach City Commission meetings and recently appeared before the St. Johns County Commission to speak against the county’s use of a “free speech area” sign — an issue unrelated to the arrest.
According to a St. Augustine Beach Police Department report, Rosenstock has repeatedly complained to a St. Augustine Beach official and other members of the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association that a vendor who regularly sells food at Pier Park’s Wednesday events does not have a license.
Also, someone complained about Rosenstock circulating information about the vendor being a sexual offender, the report said.
However, according to the report, neither claim is true. A different person who is a sexual offender has a similar name as the food vendor, according to the report. Also, two investigators from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation came to the Wednesday Market in July to investigate the food vendor — the department had been contacted by Rosenstock.
The investigators found that the vendor was “in full compliance with all permitting and food vending requirements and his non-profit business designation did not require licensing from the State of Florida,” according to the report.
The vendor has been operating under event permits of the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association, according to the report.
A beach police officer spoke with Rosenstock in July, and Rosenstock said he was not stalking the vendor but that the vendor was in violation of his food vending permit. When told of the findings of the state investigators, Rosenstock said the officer was wrong. The officer also told Rosenstock to stop circulating the sexual offender information “because the person in the computer printout was not [the vendor].”
“He paused and said maybe he made a mistake and a jury would understand that,” the report said. “Bill Rosenstock again said I was wrong and as soon as he finished his research he would have what he needed,” the officer wrote.
When told charges would be pursued against him, Rosenstock said the vendor was stalking him and he would make a report.
“[Rosenstock] said he saw [the vendor] one time at splash park watching him but didn’t elaborate further,” according to the report.
On Aug. 3, the vendor called police to complain after he saw Rosenstock at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre farmer’s market on Aug. 1, and he said he believed Rosenstock was “looking for him.” He said he did not feel threatened by Rosenstock but the situation was aggravating, according to the report.
A misdemeanor warrant for Rosenstock was issued by Judge Alexander Christine [erroneous: it was Judge Tinlin] of the Seventh Judicial Circuit on Tuesday.