DeSantis Prioritizes Criminalizing Protest Over Helping Floridians in Potential Special Session

September 23, 2020

FLORIDA -- On Tuesday, Governor DeSantis said that he would push to prioritize his criminalization of protest and anti-first amendment bill in any special legislative session that occurs, even the one-day procedural session in November. 

In response Florida Democratic Party Chair Terri Rizzo released the following statement: 

“Governor Ron DeSantis needs to get his priorities straight. The lives and livelihoods of many Floridians have been impacted by a set of concurrent crises, from the aftermath of Hurricane Sally in the panhandle, to COVID-19, to a broken unemployment system, and a lack of healthcare access, Floridians desperately need resources from the state and for months Governor DeSantis has failed to deliver. 

“Now instead of focusing on the actual needs of our communities, Governor Ron DeSantis wants to focus any upcoming legislative time on a political stunt to criminalize protest and strip people of their rights. This is deeply disappointing, but not surprising.  The Florida Democratic Party  stands with our vulnerable residents and those impacted by Hurricane Sally and urges Governor DeSantis and the Republican legislators to refocus their priorities on things that our communities actually need.”

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A report in the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday further outlined Florida Democrats’ reactions to this ludicrous bill and the suggested Republican priorities of a special session. 

Sun Sentinel: Florida lawmakers blast DeSantis: ‘Mr. Governor, you have 99 problems, but protesters ain’t one'

By Wayne K. Roustan | September 23, 2020 

KEY EXCERPTS: 

  • The Democratic lawmakers and community leaders said penalizing the First Amendment right to assemble is unconstitutional. “Governor, with all due respect, you’ve just declared war on our civil rights," said state Rep. Shevrin Jones.

  • The Governor, also on Tuesday, called on fellow Republican legislators to pass his proposals to increase criminal penalties against protesters as soon as November instead of waiting until the next regular session in March. Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith welcomed a special session, but to address COVID-19, unemployment, evictions, business bankruptcies and other priorities in Florida.

  • “If you want to call a special session, call that right now,” he [Senator Oscar Braynon] said. “But, I will call [DeSantis] on this B.S., in this special session [which] is strictly about elections and electioneering.”

  • “You already have laws on the books to address vandalism, to address looting," said state Rep. Anna Eskamani. “We know this has nothing to do with public safety. It will lead to the arrests of more Black and brown people.”

  • “Leave it to Florida’s Republicans to give 100% to a 10% problem while they give zero effort to the real problems affecting Floridians," she [Representative Fentrice Driskell] said. "Mr. Governor, you have 99 problems, but protesters ain’t one.”

  • “For those who may be feeling like the government is putting its knee on your neck," said Driskell. “This November you have to exercise your power to vote.”


September 23, 2020

For Immediate Release

Contact: Alexandra Caffrey

alcaffrey@floridadems.org

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