When I read this I am pretty sure I went into shock. A man named Anthony Brasfield was out with his girlfriend in a parking lot when he released a dozen heart shaped helium balloons over Dania Beach for her… A sweet and romantic, good-hearted intention which most women, his girlfriend included, only get to wish their husband or boyfriend would do. However, their moment of romance and love was quickly shattered.
While I am rather sure they thought they were sharing the moment alone…they were wrong. A Florida Highway Patrol officer had also been watching, and realized he had the chance to arrest someone for releasing helium balloons under a rarely used state crime statue. The officer decided, as he watched them let the balloons off, this man was committing a crime against the environment!
And, this is what Anthony was initially charged with: probable cause for an environmental crime.
Anthony and his girlfriend had been staying in a hotel located only 1.5 miles away from the John U. Lloyd State Park, a place where different species of endangered marine turtles and birds seek refuge.
I believe I would call this profiling; obviously, the couple were in a hotel, more than likely not familiar to the area, and they weren’t white. The cop probably needed to catch up on his quota and abused the situation. That is just my personal opinion based on how things tend to go by looking at history and modern day events committed by the cops.
In addition, if it was such a danger and he truly didn’t want to damage someone for life – why did he not simply go inform them they were not allowed to release balloons in the area? If they had already flown off, even a ticket would be excessive if you’re asking me, so why not simply give them a warning and educate them on the rarely used law? Why put this man in a situation with this ridiculous charge?
This is a charge which will more than likely ruin his life in many aspects. Before I continue, I mention this environmental crime statue is rarely used. For an example of how infrequently it is used, and how unimportant it must generally be to even the cops… This felony, yes felony, was used to arrest only 21 other people statewide between the years 2008 and 2012… I am not sure what they did to find themselves arrested under this, but I hope it wasn’t something as stupid and degrading as this. That actually might make an interesting research topic….
Anthony has now officially been charged with polluting to harm humans, plants, animals, and so forth, under the rarely implemented Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act. This is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Having a felony stamped on your record changes life forever. For example, it makes all applications for work much more likely to be rejected as the minute the word “felony” is seen, employers tend to lose interest. I’d understand this law more if it were made in regards to people who intentionally and knowingly set out to harm the environment. But to use it on a man for released 12 heart balloons in a romantic gesture for his loved one…is abusive and ridiculous.
Right now there is no news of course as to whether he will be found guilty or not guilty, but given the fact that not only was he not purposefully trying to break the law, disrespect or harm the people or environment. While I am completely for people knowing the law in order to fight that which is unjust, most people don’t even know a great deal of their state laws, and that’s fine as well as understandable. Why in the world would the majority of society know about laws that on a regular basis are of no concern to them? Balloons? Felony? Really?!
To expect the people to memorize every law is insane; it’s not reasonable or rational to expect citizens to know about every law in their state or city. This is just a trap, or, a law that can too easily be used as one when in the wrong hands as we see with this case.
Hopefully because it is clear he had no intent to harm anyone intentionally this will be dismissed and the arresting officer be fired due to stupidity.
My Thoughts go out to this man and his loved one. Hoping to hear some positive news on this one soon.