A photo of an on-duty police officer in full uniform was going viral Tuesday because the cop was wearing a pro-Donald Trump mask at a polling place in Florida as voters were casting their ballots early. The incident that prompted a swift rebuke from the Miami Police Department came amid warnings of voter intimidation after the president has seemingly been encouraging it to happen.
The officer in Miami was identified by the Miami Herald as Daniel Ubeda after the photographer posted it to social media Tuesday morning. While it was unclear whether Ubeda was there as a voter or in a professional capacity, what was clear is that the person who snapped the photo is a lawyer. That person, Steve Simeonidis, called for Ubeda to “be suspended immediately” for what he described as “city funded voter intimidation.”
Simeonidis also claimed what Ubeda did is illegal.
“Not only is this an egregious form of voter intimidation, but it’s also a crime,” he also tweeted.
To be clear, Florida law expressly prohibits any “political activities of state, county, and municipal officers and employees.”
The Miami Police Department responded by suggesting Ubeda would be disciplined but stopped short of saying he would be fired, arrested or cited for committing a crime, let alone facing a suspension.
“We are aware of the photograph being circulated of a Miami Police officer wearing a political mask in uniform,” the police department tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “This behavior is unacceptable, a violation of departmental policy, and is being addressed immediately.”
During his one debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Trump called for his supporters to patrol polling places to prevent what he said was voter fraud from happening. The incident with Ubeda on Tuesday followed other Trump-supporting armed white men who plotted to kidnap Democratic governors seemingly heeding Trump’s previous calls to “liberate” Michigan and Virginia. Taken together, just two weeks ahead of what’s expected to be a contested election, the incidents might suggest that there will be more and similar acts of political vigilantism drawn along partisan lines that may turn violent.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle said she won her re-election in August in part because of her embrace of police reform. She said over the summer that it was wrong to believe that she’s been soft on cops, NBC Miami reported at the time.
“There is a notion out there that’s a false narrative that our office – that myself and our team – do not prosecute police officers that violate the law,” Fernandez-Rundle said. “During my tenure we have prosecuted over 500 police and correctional officers.”
We shall see how — or if — Fernandez-Rundle reacts to this flagrant flouting of the law by a police officer sworn to uphold and enforce it.
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