George Floyd protests in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia/CC
Civil liberties and racial justice advocates are celebrating after a federal judge ruled Thursday that Florida’s anti-protest law is unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.
In his 90-page decision (pdf) granting civil rights groups’ request for a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the law—passed by Florida’s GOP-controlled House and Senate and signed in April by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in response to demonstrations against police violence and racial injustice—violates rights to free speech and peaceful assembly as well as due process protections. Continue reading →
George Floyd protests in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia Commons/CC
After Florida’s Senate Republicans on Thursday passed an undemocratic anti-protest bill—expected to be signed into law by its chief proponent, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, as early as next week—the state’s ACLU chapter condemned GOP lawmakers for “aiming to shut down political speech they disagree with in a direct attack on the First Amendment and at the cost of Black and Brown people.”
House Bill 1 “is racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic, plain and simple,” Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement. Continue reading →
Florida’s Piney Point reservoir seen from an aerial view on Sunday, April 4, 2021. (Photo: 10 Tampa Bay/YouTube Screengrab)
Florida workers over the weekend rushed to prevent the collapse of a reservoir wall containing hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater from a defunct phosphate mine, a looming environmental catastrophe that prompted mandatory evacuation orders and a declaration of emergency by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
A leak in the Piney Point reservoir was first reported late last month, sparking fears of a complete breach and possible upending of stacks of phosphogypsum, a radioactive waste product of fertilizer manufacturing. During a briefing on Saturday, a public safety official for Florida’s Manatee County warned that “structural collapse” of the storage reservoir “could occur at any time.” Continue reading →
George Floyd protests in Washington DC. Photo: Rosa Pineda /CC
Progressives are sounding the alarm that a handful of Republican lawmakers are exploiting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 by an insurrectionist pro-Trump mob to push for anti-protest bills that critics say do not aim to stem the tide of right-wing extremism but instead criminalize dissent by those seeking social change and justice.
In the immediate aftermath of last week’s invasion of the halls of Congress, GOP lawmakers in Florida, Mississippi, and Indiana introduced bills that “do not represent new strategies designed specifically to prevent future right-wing insurrections… [but] draw from a set of policies that numerous state legislators introduced [last] summer in order to appear tough on protests against police brutality,” The Interceptreported Tuesday. Continue reading →
Florida state authorities on Monday raided the home of Rebekah Jones, a former state scientist who says she was ousted from her job for refusing to manipulate data about the coronavirus. (Photo: @GeoRebekah/Twitter/screenshot)
Data scientist Rebekah Jones on Monday evening assured Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that she would not stop reporting accurate information about the coronavirus pandemic in the state, despite a raid by state authorities at Jones’s home Monday morning which she says was aimed at silencing her.
Jones shared a video of state police entering her home with guns drawn while her children and husband were upstairs, saying the authorities pointed the weapons at her family while executing a search warrant in regards to an unauthorized message that was allegedly sent by Jones to the state Department of Health (DOH). Continue reading →
George Floyd Miami Protest, June 7, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/CC
The American Civil Liberties Union joined Florida Democrats on Monday in condemning a proposed bill by Gov. Ron DeSantis that would newly classify certain forms of protest as felonies and impose harsh penalties on some protesters.
Flanked by Republican lawmakers and law enforcement officials at an afternoon press conference in Winter Haven, DeSantis referred to Black Lives Matter protests in Portland, Oregon as he announced the proposed legislation. Continue reading →
The voting rights of hundreds of thousands of former felons in Florida were called into question Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a lower court ruling to stand, permitting the state to bar former inmates from voting if they owe court fees or fines.
The decision relates to Amendment 4, a law that overwhelmingly passed in November 2018 via a referendum. Sixty-five percent of Florida voters approved of the amendment, which said former felons can vote in the state after they have completed “all terms of [their] sentence.” Continue reading →
Civil liberties advocates celebrated after a federal court on Sunday struck down as unconstitutional a Florida law that would have denied the right to vote to nearly a million recently enfranchised state residents with past felony convictions until they paid all outstanding legal fees, fines, and restitution.
After Florida voters in November 2018 overwhelming backed Amendment 4—a ballot initiative that restored the voting rights of Floridians who have fully completed their sentences for felony convictions other than murder or sex crimes—state lawmakers passed legislation that critics condemned as a “modern day poll tax.” Continue reading →