Florida Man Headlines – July 6

July 6 – Ax-Wielding Florida Man Arrested After Protesting Face Mask Policy

Being asked to wear a face mask to reduce COVID-19 contagion sent a Florida man over the edge and prompted him to threaten employees of a grocery store. According to an arrest report issued by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Michael Bevans and a female companion entered a Grocery Advantage store without wearing face masks; he became enraged when told that he could not remain in the store unless he masked up, and this is when he started yelling racial epithets and profanities.

Bevans was asked to leave the store because his belligerence was making shoppers nervous, and this was when he pulled out a landscaping ax. A news report published by the Pensacola News Journal explained that two employees attempted to defuse the situation by telling Evans that they would not call the police if he agreed to leave the store, but he did not agree and continued to wield the ax menacingly. A female employee appealed to the woman Bevans came in with to leave peacefully, but this did not work either; instead, he attempted to grab the store clerk, whom the police report indicated was eight months pregnant.

After the couple left the store, the employees called the police. Two deputies intercepted Bevans a few blocks away and arrested him; he was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. It should be noted that Florida never implemented a statewide mandate directing residents to wear masks when visiting indoor places open to the public. This was a source of discontent between Governor Ron DeSantis and the White House; nonetheless, Pensacola City Council passed an emergency mask ordinance requiring face coverings inside businesses during the pandemic, and Escambia County did the same when Bevans was arrested.

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July 6 – Florida Man Drinks Whiskey All Day and Bulldozes Political Campaign Signs

Ever since the Gary Hart scandal and the “Brooks Brother Riot,” two events that ended up shaping the outcomes of presidential elections, the Sunshine State has become a political powder keg just waiting for the next Florida man to set it on fire. This explains what motivated 26-year-old James Phillip Blight, a resident of Polk County, to steal heavy equipment and target a neighborhood where residents had put up yard signs supporting the election of President Joe Biden.

According to a news report published by Bay News 9, a Spectrum television affiliate, Blight is a construction worker and backhoe operator who stole a front-end loader from a construction site in Haines City on a Saturday afternoon. He was bothered by the proliferation of Biden campaign signs posted in front of many homes in one of the few working-class communities that predominantly vote Democratic in Polk County; to this effect, he drove the loader down the street for two blocks and entered a section of the neighborhood through a greenbelt space.

Once in the neighborhood, Blight plowed through fences and dug up front yards as he picked up Biden-Harris signs with the loader. In some cases, he climbed down and removed the signs by hand because it was easier to do so than with the bucket. A neighbor got in his truck and started chasing Blight, who by now was slowly driving the loader back on the street while knocking down traffic signs.

After a slow chase by a cruiser from the Haines City Police Department, Blight was arrested and charged with grand theft, mischief, and trespassing. He said he had started drinking from a bottle of whiskey since the morning and did not remember anything before his arrest, but he also pointed out that he avoided driving over the front garden of the former vice mayor, a prominent Democratic politician.