Tag Archives: hillsborough

Warrant Issued for Church Pastor that Held Services in Violation of Stay-at-Home Order

A mega-church in Tampa defied a “safer-at-home” order in effect in Hillsborough County, Florida, and held a crowded service Sunday morning. Today, the pastor is facing charges for holding the service in violation of the order. The Sheriff and State Attorney held a press conference this afternoon to announce the charges, saying they had reached out to the church a couple of times, and the church refused to cancel the service. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne will reportedly turn himself in on charges of unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order.

Rodney Howard-Browne via Facebook

The church, and pastor Howard-Browne, will argue that the stay-at-home order violated their first amendment rights, but the equation is not that simple. The order was content neutral, meaning it did not target religious services, but all gatherings. For instance, a city cannot bad one party from putting up signs before an election, but they can ban all signs more than a month before the election: the state has more leeway on such content neutral rules. Usually, those are applied to free speech element of the First Amendment, but these rules also differ in that they deal with the free exercise of religion and the right of peaceable assembly. There’s not much precedent to use, as the last time we had such a public health emergency in this country was 100 years ago during the Spanish Flu epidemic. I think the State will be more interested in stopping the services going forward than they will be in prosecuting a pastor, but the legal question will be interesting to watch.

This twitter post links footage from the service Sunday:

UPDATE: The pastor did turn himself in on the charges. Seems like under the rodney howard-browne mugcircumstance, it would have made more sense to give him a notice to appear. That is, if you’re so worried about social distancing, there is an alternative to processing him through a jail with hundreds of inmates. But, they had a point to make, and wanted to give him a mug shot.

Tampa Woman Charged with 3 DUIs in less than a Week

Jennifer Yi Mug Shot

Jennifer Yi Mug Shot

Jennifer Yi has been booked into the Hillsborough county jail for three DUI counts in only 6 days! That’s impressive. It’s a bad, bad thing… but impressive.

Don’t drink and drive (and drink and drive and drink and drive).

St. Pete Beach Arrest Video Goes Viral

Cop Tackles Unruly Beachgoer, from video by Darrell Tate

Cop Tackles Unruly Beachgoer, from video by Darrell Tate

Spring breaker Darrell Tate caught some dramatic video this weekend on St. Pete beach, as two spring breakers were violently arrested by a cop. The video doesn’t show what initiated the contact by the deputy, but it does show both young men resisting. The officer does not draw a weapon, using only his hands, and is able to subdue both of the suspects. They have both been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, a felony.

I’m not big into wrestling, but apparently the deputy’s move is called a ‘choke slam’. He’s a big dude. The whole experience must have been scary for the cop, in spite of his size. Don’t fight cops, kids.