The Republican National Convention (RNC) barely started Monday but the first protester was arrested Sunday afternoon for having a machete.
Jason T. Wilson was caught allegedly carrying his machete inside the 'event zone' of the Tampa convention area. When police asked him to stop he refused and reportedly resisted arrest. He told police he was allowed to carry the weapon, reports Tampa Bay Times.
Wilson was partially right. The issue wasn't the weapon he was carrying. It was where he was carrying it.
Florida does not prohibit citizens from carrying knives like the one Wilson had so long as they are kept in a sheath. But within an 'event zone' those laws may be different.
Event zones, such as a convention, generally have more foot traffic and may require additional security. It's for that reason that normally lawful activities are banned within those zones.
That's also the reasoning behind why protesters are relegated to certain areas of a political convention, such as the RNC, rather than being allowed to protest anywhere.
Safety concerns sometimes trump otherwise legal action.
That doesn't mean all arrests within event zones are legitimate. Also on Sunday, police tried to arrest other protesters for carrying supposed weapons, reports New York Daily News. Luckily the protesters were able to prove that they weren't breaking the law.
If you weren't so lucky and were arrested during a protest talk to a lawyer you can trust. It could make all the difference.
Wilson would have been in trouble even if his knife was allowed in the event zone.
Resisting arrest is a crime unto itself. Just because you don't think you've broken the law, it doesn't give you the right to stop police from trying to do their jobs. The time to refute your arrest is with your attorney, not while the police are cuffing you.
He also can't claim ignorance to diffuse the charges. Even if Wilson wasn't aware of the ban on carrying weapons in an event zone, ignorance of the law is almost never a defense.
The machete-wielding protester is currently facing charges of having a prohibited weapon in an event area and resisting arrest. The RNC meanwhile is expected to go as planned.