Friday, July 17, 2020

Winter Park attorney suing Gov. DeSantis to reopen downtown Orlando bars is apparently a big fan of Run the Jewels

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 5:41 PM

  • Screenshot via John W. Dill/Facebook
Winter Park attorney John W. Dill has won some pretty big cases in his career as a civil attorney, trying more than 180 of them to verdict and reporting more than $230 million in verdicts obtained for clients.

Along the way, he's celebrated a few of those victories on Facebook, occasionally with a symbol familiar to hip-hop heads: the logo for Run the Jewels, the duo of Killer Mike and El-P loved by legions of activist fans.

The logo appeared on the cover of their 2013 debut album and turned out to be very popular. In 2015, El-P shared with fans how he communicated the concept in an email to artist Nick Gazin, an image of a hand essentially robbing another hand.
  • Screenshot via thereallyrealelp/Instagram
Dill seems to like the symbol so much he's made it his cover image on Facebook and, until this week, it popped up occasionally on his timeline when he'd score a win.
  • Screenshot via John W. Dill/Facebook
Now, Dill is representing a group of downtown Orlando bar owners in their lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. They say the state's decision to close down Florida's bars again on June 26 was unconstitutional and will kill their businesses. The suit, also filed against Halsey Beshears, Florida's secretary of the Department of Professional Business Regulation, was filed by the owners of:
  • Aero
  • Cahoots & Latitudes
  • Chillers
  • Clandestino
  • Ember
  • The Hanson Building
  • Irish Shannon’s Pub
  • North
  • The Patio
Instead of suing for funds to keep the owners and their staff afloat while they remain closed to protect the public, the bars are suing only to reopen again.

"We aren’t asking for money," Dill said of his clients in an interview with FOX 35 on Tuesday. "They will go under certainly if this continues on; they won’t be able to continue with their business model."

The suit claims the bars took great care to follow state safety protocols — like testing employees and limiting patrons to under 50 percent of capacity — and says they are being unfairly punished for the infractions of others.

Indeed, an Orlando Weekly investigation into bars that were refusing to comply (or pretending to comply) during the Phase 1 reopening in May found none of these bars were among the bad actors we documented. Still, it's a risky time for a bar to reopen, since many Florida bars were forced to close for noncompliance.
When Beshears issued his June 26 shutdown order, it was on the same day Florida posted 8,942 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total at that time to 122,960. On the same day, the state reported 39 additional deaths, bringing the total death toll at that time to 3,366.

Now, 21 days later, Florida's total number of cases has almost tripled, with 11,466 new coronavirus cases added on Friday and 128 new deaths. There have now been a statewide total of 327,241 cases, and 4,805 people have died. Also on Friday, the total statewide number of COVID-19 hospitalizations surpassed 20,000.

In Orange County, where the plaintiffs' bars are located, 750 new cases were reported on Friday, along with one new death, bringing the county's totals to 22,049 cases and 103 who have died. Orange is second in deaths statewide only to Polk County, which has had 162 fatalities, largely due to nursing-home outbreaks.

Orlando Weekly reached out to Dill today to ask how the lawsuit is going, and whether it's safe for bars to reopen right now. We also wanted to know about the Run the Jewels thing.

A receptionist took my request for comment, slowly writing down my contact information and questions, before finally saying, "The person you want to speak with is not available." I've been told my message will be delivered.
  • Image via Run the Jewels/
No word on whether Killer Mike or El-P have an opinion about whether Florida's bars should reopen to serve alcohol during Florida's latest COVID-19 spike — but considering Killer Mike filmed a PSA back in May urging young people to take coronavirus seriously and stay home, he's probably against it.

"Stay home, if you can. Mask up, if you can't," Mike says in the video, which he made in partnership with DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond. It was designed to reach young African Americans in Georgia on the radio, in print ads and on billboards.

"We totally missed the boat in Georgia," Thurman said. "That's one of the things that I think is hurting our response. We've not tailored messages or recruited messengers that speak directly to populations that’s most impacted."

"I just don't want to see people who look like me die unnecessarily because of cabin fever," Mike told WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Today is, coincidentally, the fourth official Killer Mike Day in the city of Atlanta, so he's probably busy. We will update this story with new comments, and as more information comes out.
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