PEACE AT THE POLLS

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Local law enforcement will be keeping an eye on polling places to make sure there’s no voter intimation or violence.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

There are no right-wing or White supremacist rallies planned locally, but law enforcement says these groups are present in the area.

“There are no plans of any rallies, but we are a hotspot for anything to happen. We have both right-wing and left-wing people,” related Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood.

“A top Proud Boys member lives in Ormond Beach. We have had skinheads, Ku Klux Klan, anti-government groups, motorcycle gangs and anarchists here in the county. We have even had Antifa spotted in DeLand,” Chitwood noted.

Safety at the polls

A member of the far right group “Proud Boys” marches at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on Aug. 17, 2019, in Portland, Oregon. A rally was held in support of President Trump and his “law and order’’ re-election campaign.

JOHN RUDOFF/AFP/GETTYIMAGES/TNS

Local law enforcement is working to make sure all goes well with the upcoming general election.

Chitwood noted that Volusia Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis has scheduled a Zoom call with law enforcement to discuss safety at the polls.

“Other than early voting, there is no police presence at polling places. We will have extra patrols looking for voter intimidation and violence at the polls,” he shared.

Local social justice organizations like the Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP is expecting law enforcement to protect voters from violence.

“We are not our ancestors. We won’t be intimidated. It is a heated race coming up. My hope  is that law enforcement must be prepared to protect voters at the polls,” Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP president Cynthia Slater told the Daytona Times.

Chitwood responded, “We will do all that we can to make sure that voters are safe as well as the workers at the polling places. That is what sets us apart from every country in the world – that you can go and vote peacefully on Election Day.”

Working together

Law enforcement also wants to keep the calm, avoid violence and avoid destruction of property during any time, especially during the recent protests. The key is the community and law enforcement working together.

“My hope is that when the community sees these groups that they alert law enforcement and try to discourage these groups from acts of violence,” Chitwood noted.

“We’ve seen this happen in other communities like in Detroit where pastors went and surrounded buildings and didn’t let them be destroyed. Baltimore had some success with this too due to the clergy and community.”

Right to assemble

Black Lives Matters members have been hosting protests in Ormond Beach near the Grenada Bridge. Recently, there have been reports of supporters of President Donald Trump showing up to harass protestors.

“I’ve heard about some incidents but nothing major has happened,” Chitwood said.

In the U.S., organizations have the right to assemble peacefully, according to the Constitution.

Chitwood emphasized, “You have a right to peacefully protest in this country, but you don’t have a right to drive a car into a crowd, destroy property or assault anyone.

“Violence is not the key. You do a crime you will be arrested. Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter can be on opposite ends of the street.”

‘Be cognizant’

There also have been reports of paid agitators attending protests across the country and stirring up trouble on both sides of the spectrum.

“This has happened. Law enforcement has tracked the guy who drove a car into protestors in one city to several other cities by finding his flight manifests. He went from Portland to Seattle to Kenosha to Washington D.C., Chitwood noted.

The question was: How did he get the money to do all of this? We always have to be cognizant. People have the right to protest, but it is sad to see it get hijacked with violence,” Chitwood added.

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