After a couple spotted a man holding a sign that read "Death to America" on a curb in Middleburg, Florida, they decided to take matters into their own hands by physically beating up the man and snatching the sign away from him in a Tuesday encounter that was caught on camera.
The man and woman were driving past the curb in a gray Nissan when they saw Charles Brownett standing there with his sign, which read "Death to America" on the front and "Because of Obama's policies" on the back, according to WJAX-TV. The woman in the car allegedly shouted at Brownett, "Why don't you leave America?" to which he responded, "Give me some money," the Clay County Sheriff's Office report stated.
Man holding 'Death to America' sign attacked by couple in Florida https://t.co/BhKhxfsd3Z https://t.co/Rdaj8ywss4— WPXI (@WPXI) 1459426635.0
The duo then parked their vehicle at a nearby McDonald's before walking back toward Brownett. The man, who can be seen wearing an orange shirt in video footage, shouted, "Actually, I like that sign. Give it to me," according to WJAX.
A scuffle then ensued during which the man with the orange shirt can be seen tackling Brownett and wrestling with him, as the woman, wearing a gray shirt in the footage, walks over to join them before kicking Brownett several times. A fourth unknown person attempted to break the two men apart, but the man in the orange shirt used the lull in the fight to punch Brownett several times in the face, witnesses said.
Florida: Man holding ‘Death to America' sign beaten on street corner https://t.co/1kSJ5MzT20 https://t.co/82CwQS9rjx— Oliver Darcy (@Oliver Darcy) 1459401543.0
Investigators have since identified the pair that began the scuffle with Brownett, although their names have not been publicly released. No charges have yet been filed as the deputies had not yet made contact with the couple, according to WOKV-TV. But the suspects could face up to a year in jail for battery charges, WJAX reported. Brownett, however, will face no charges, because according to authorities, he was exercising his right to freedom of speech as he peacefully stood in a public area posing no obvious threat to passersby or to ongoing traffic.
Brownett's sign and the issue of freedom of speech at play in this incident caused a stir amongst witnesses and social media users.
"He is in public area, where he has a right to be. He’s expressing an opinion that is his," said Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson. "If he were encouraging some sort of violence or using prohibited language like the ‘F’ word or the ‘N’ word, then that could have had other ramifications."
"He got what he deserved," one female witness told WJAX. "Come on, it’s America, you’re not going to hold a sign with all the terroristic attacks going around the world. No."
@WPXI obviously the couple did a good job, the man wanted the response he got.— Dan Kuny (@Dan Kuny) 1459429616.0