There Won’t Be Any Action Against A Florida Lawmaker Who ‘Warned’ Protestors With An AR-15

The Florida House Speaker said it wasn't a "threat."
Weekend Protests in Florida Were Met With An AR-15 'Warning' From A State Official

On Tuesday, House Speaker José Oliva went to Twitter to address a tweet that was circulating on Sunday. A Lake County lawmaker tweeted a picture of an AR-15 rifle during the weekend protests in Florida, and wrote a "warning" to potential "protesters." The speaker said he would not pursue any action against the representative. 

"I am in receipt of a few letters regarding a tweet by Rep. Anthony Sabatini," Oliva said in a seven tweet thread. "The imagery notwithstanding, it is my conclusion that the wording of the tweet does not constitute a direct or preemptive threat to any specific person, organized group, or entity."

As demonstrations throughout the state unfolded during the weekend, Rep. Sabatini responded to the ongoing protests on his personal Twitter on May 31.

"Attention potential 'protesters' coming near Lake County, FL. This is an AR-15—this will be a very common sight upon illegal entry at any Lake County business—FYI," Sabatini wrote.

He would later go on to claim it was "a warning."

Following the tweet, individuals and other Florida officials called for the resignation of Sabatini, including Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services Nikki Fried, who said the comment was "reckless and a violation of House rules."

She went on to write a letter to Rep. Oliva and Rep. Chris Sprowls calling for Sabatini to be "admonished."

According to Rep. Oliva, "the tweet represents a stated and implied reaction to a potential threat. The specific threat being the illegal trespass of private property. [...] I therefore do not feel it is within my authority to take official action."

Sabatini made headlines back in 2019 after a picture of him in blackface resurfaced. The photo was from 2005 when the representative was in high school. Despite requests for him to resign, Sabatini did not step down.

"When we were 15, 16, sophomore year, it was OK to joke around like that. It’s changed, OK? There is definitely a different standard. I get it," he told Orlando Sentinel.

Twitter also received a complaint regarding the post on Sunday but concluded that it didn't violate the site's rules after doing an investigation.