A man holding a sign that said "Death to America" at the corner of County Road 220 and Plantation Drive was attacked by a man and a woman on Tuesday afternoon.
According to a Clay County Sheriff's Office report, the other side of the Charles Brownett's sign said, "Because of Obama's policies." A female passenger in a passing gray Nissan Titan yelled to the man, "Why don't you leave America?"
Brownett yelled back, "Give me some money," the report detailed.
A man wearing an orange shirt was driving the Nissan Titan, which pulled into the parking lot of McDonald's at 561 Plantation Drive. The man and the woman went inside McDonald's, then walked back out to the truck.
The man wearing the orange shirt shouted to Brownett, "Actually, I like that sign, give it to me," witnesses told deputies.
The two struggled over the sign and the man wearing the orange shirt tackled the victim. An unknown citizen tried to break up the altercation when the female passenger from the Nissan Titan came over and kicked the victim several times, the report detailed.
The man wearing the orange shirt used the "break in the conflict" to punch Brownett in the face several times with a closed fist.
Several witnesses recorded the entire struggle on cellphone video, and one witness sent video to Action News Jax. Deputies were able to identify the man and woman in the Nissan Titan and the "case is active pending contact with the suspect," the report detailed.
Earlier Tuesday, Brownett was found to be "exercising his right to free speech" and was not violating any laws.
Deputies received several calls about Brownett holding the sign, but he was on a public sidewalk and was not blocking traffic. Deputies also told Brownett he may "have some negative reactions from passersby" and Brownett said he had a cellphone in case there was an issue.
"He is in public area, where he has a right to be. He's expressing an opinion that is his," said WJAX Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson.
Carson said what Brownett was doing is not illegal.
"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," Carson said.
Carson said in the eyes of the law, the attackers were in the wrong, but that's not changing many minds about how this all played out.
"He got what he deserved," said one woman who saw Brownett on Tuesday afternoon. She said she doesn't agree with the sign, whether it's freedom of speech or not.
Several viewers wrote similar posts on Facebook: "Come on it's America, you're not going to hold a sign with all the terroristic attacks going around the world, No."
Some people believe he has every right to stand on the corner. Carson said the attackers can face battery charges, which can lead up to a year in jail.
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