Miami, FL—Yesterday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez blamed BLM protesters, in part, for the spike in COVID-19 cases. In response, Dwight Bullard, Political Director for New Florida Majority, a Miami-based grassroots racial justice and political organizing group, released the following statement:
We strongly disagree with the Mayor’s claims that the recent spike in COVID-19 cases had a lot to do with the Black Lives Matter protests that followed the death of George Floyd.
I was one of the people who took to the streets multiple times to protest and I’m not sick; and every single time I used a mask and stood six feet apart from everyone else, just like many did. It’s utterly disrespectful to blame people, mostly young, Black and Latinx Floridians, who protested in the streets, while completely ignoring that hundreds of thousands of Floridians were forced to stand in line to demand their unemployment checks because Governor DeSantis’ system collapsed, or that thousands of Floridians had to go to work unprotected because our government did not care to shut down the economy and provide proper relief to families in need.
What Mayor Gimenez did is racist, plain and simple. This is just another example of why we must continue to say Black Lives Matter. Because in the same way that police officers kill us and corporations abuse us, politicians are quick to blame us for almost anything, including a global pandemic.
Everyone knows that we are having a surge because Florida never properly shut down in the first place. Time and time again, state and local leaders decided to ignore the advice of scientists and experts and instead blindly followed the baseless claims from the Trump administration. Mayor Gimenez chose to align with Governor DeSantis and open up beaches, restaurants and bars sooner than the medical community recommended. Undoubtedly, this has resulted in more and more people being subjected to the virus, numbers continuing to surge, and on Saturday, alone, the state confirmed 11,443 new cases.
Mayor Gimenez, we demand an apology to countless Black and brown Floridians who were insulted by your statement. If someone is to blame here, it is Governor DeSantis, no one else.