Miami, FL — Earlier today, Andrea Mercado, the Executive Director of the New Florida Majority, one of the largest political organizing groups in the state of Florida, released the following statement regarding proposed legislation from Gov. DeSantis that would throttle the First Amendment and effectively legalize violence against protesters:
Let me be clear: Gov. DeSantis is proposing legislation that would effectively legalize violence against protesters in the state of Florida. This is an unconscionable assault on the sanctity of free speech and a blatantly political tactic to sow chaos ahead of the presidential election in November.
The proposed legislation would protect from liability individuals who injure protesters with their vehicles; just three years after Heather Heyer, an anti-racism activist, was murdered when a white supremacist drove his vehicle into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The suppression of dissent is a tactic that has been used by dictators in authoritarian regimes throughout history and around the world. One of the most sacred aspects of our American democracy is the freedom to express dissent without the fear of state-sanctioned violence. The governor’s proposed legislation is a direct threat to this freedom.
This legislation cannot go forward. The governor should cease his attempts to sow chaos and discord and work to support Florida’s working families who are still struggling with his mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of trying to divide our state even further, he should focus on extending the moratorium on evictions; expanding unemployment insurance; stop rushing to send our children back to school when it is unsafe to do so; and stop FPL from disconnecting utilities to households already struggling to stay afloat amid this pandemic.
Instead of continuing to tear us apart, he should focus on supporting the people of Florida during one of the most difficult periods in our history.