Speaker declines to curse, but threatens to shoot Miami-Dade politicians
07/16/2014 5:27 PM
07/17/2014 2:04 PM
Showing up to a Miami-Dade County Commission meeting a little hot under the collar, seething over a local government decision? Not unusual.
Threatening bodily harm to elected officials — and pointing at them while doing so? That’ll get you arrested.
Jose Antonio Fernandez, 54, found that out the hard way Tuesday when he stepped to the microphone and warned that if the county were to take his property, he would have “the right to shoot every one of you.
“Shoot ’em,” he said.
Two sergeants-at-arms moved in, one on either side of Fernandez. They rushed him out of the commission chambers and handcuffed him.
“Will you please remove him completely from the building, and follow up on that?” Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa said behind them.
Fernandez was still yelling from the escalator. “Enough is enough! This is America!”
The Miami-Dade Police Department slapped him with 13 felony charges of threatening to harm a public servant — one for each of the 12 commissioners present and for Mayor Carlos Gimenez — and a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
Wednesday, Fernandez remained in jail with bond set at $97,500. His public defender declined to comment.
He had been the first speaker called at Tuesday’s property-tax rate hearing.
Fernandez, sporting a prominent beard and a T-shirt that read “No to United Nations Agenda 21,” accused the commission of “confiscating the land of small farmers.”
“You confiscated my land already,” he said.
“Now you want my house. I came here to tell you in public, if you sell my house, the ‘bleep’ is going to hit the fan,” he added, apparently more comfortable making threats than cursing. “And I’m going to board the entire house with me inside.”
Fernandez lives just outside a rural South Miami-Dade enclave locked in legal battles with county environmental regulators over wetlands violations. The small nurseries and farms just east of the Everglades and west of Krome Avenue in the Las Palmas community — known as the 8 ½ Square Mile Area — have repeatedly run afoul of the Division of Environmental Resources Management.
A judge ruled in 2011 that Fernandez’s nursery — which was on a separate property from his home — owed the county $316,000 in restitution that Miami-Dade has yet to receive.
The home, which is not in Fernandez’s name, is scheduled to be sold in a foreclosure auction this month.
An undated photo in Google Maps purportedly of Fernandez’s home shows a sign affixed to a tree outside that reads, “DERM must be stopped.”
A call to the listed owner went unanswered Wednesday.
“I dare you to sell my house,” Fernandez told commissioners Tuesday. “You have become tyrants. You have become a corrupted government. You have destroyed my family. And hundreds of families.
“And I said: enough. I am the people. And the time that you sell the house, my constitution gives me the right to shoot every one of you,” he concluded, pointing at the dais. “Shoot ’em.”
A previous version of this article misstated which property was referenced in the judge’s 2011 ruling. It was Fernandez’s nursery, which was in the Las Palmas community, and not his home, which is just outside.
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