Tuesday, February 07, 2023

FL protesters: You could lose access to the inside of the Capitol due to impending agency rules. (Florida Phoenix)

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: Yes, children, the State of Flori-DUH and RONALD DION DeSANTIS, Dull Republican Lord of All He Surveys, wants to "protect" you from protesters while he protects you from African-American history and "protects" you from LGBTQIA+ history. It's all about the cruelty. It's all about diverting your attention from the Owners and Controllers responsible for overdevelopment and corruption. The louche likes of Boy Governor RONALD DION DeSANTIS don't give a fig about people, unless it. is to cast aspersions and asparagus,  From Florida Phoenix:

FL protesters: You could lose access to the inside of the Capitol due to impending agency rules

‘First Amendment rights are no less important indoors than outdoors’

BY:  - FEBRUARY 6, 2023 6:21 PM

 High school students protested in the 4th floor rotunda and on the 5th floor in the state Capitol, March 3, 2022. Credit: Danielle J. Brown.

The Florida Capitol in Tallahassee has long been available for the public to protest, rally, chant and hold signs inside the building, to support or oppose legislation. But that access may soon change.

State agencies are reviewing a set of rules that could potentially limit where average citizens can engage in public protests or demonstrations, meaning they may not be inside the Capitol though they could still protest on the grounds, according to a recent statement from ACLU of Florida.

The issue may come to the forefront as the Florida Legislature kicks off yet another special session this week and next.

The proposed rules, issued by the Florida Department of Management Services, have been in the works for months now and have facedtremendous criticism and even some revisions since October. The ACLU has been sounding off alarms over the potential changes that could chill free speech for Floridians.

“Such protests are a crucial means of expressing disagreement or dissatisfaction with those in power and sparking thought and change, and they should be encouraged—not suppressed,” the ACLU of Florida said in a written statement last week.

The civil rights group listed a handful of historical and recent protests and demonstrations inside and near the Florida Capitol building:

“To name a few instances: in the 1960s, students from Florida A&M University and local high schools held sit-ins at the Woolworth on Monroe Street to protest segregation,” according to the ACLU statement.

“In 2012, the Dream Defenders held a month-long sit-in at the Florida Capitol following George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Last year, Floridians held a rally outside the Florida State Capitol building to protest against vaccine and mask mandates. And in October 2022, protestors from across Florida gathered on the steps of the Old Florida State Capitol Building to protest life-sentences for non-violent crimes.”

The proposed rules by the Florida Department of Management Services relate to “demonstration activity,” meaning “any demonstrating, parading, picketing, speech making, holding of vigils, sit-ins, or other similar activities conducted for the purpose of demonstrating approval or disapproval of governmental policies or practices (or the lack thereof), expressing a view on public issues, or bringing into public notice any issue or other matter.”

Those types of activities would be permitted “in the outdoor spaces of the Capitol Complex,” and does not explicitly say whether protests, demonstrations, and sit-ins can occur inside the building, which has historically been allowed.

Within the past year, many protests and rallies have occurred inside the Florida Capitol building, typically on the 4th floor rotunda, which sits nestled between the Florida House and Senate chambers.

In March of 2022, high school students filled the rotunda, shouting “F*** DeSantis,” in protest of the Florida Legislature passing restrictions on classroom discussions of LGBTQ+ topics.

A month later in April, a protest on the floor of the state House chamber shutdown debates against new redistricting maps, as Black lawmakers performed a sit-in on the floor.

 At least a 100 anti-abortion protesters gathered in the Florida Capitol building on Nov. 22, 2022. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

And in November, well over a hundred anti-abortion protesters gathered on the 4th floor rotunda shouting out “make Florida totally abortion free.”

Note that the proposed rules do not explicitly say that protests inside the Capitol Building cannot occur or what would happen if protests broke out anyways, but the ACLU of Florida argues that the proposed rule should be amended to explicitly include indoor spaces as well, according to the recent written statement.

“First Amendment rights are no less important indoors than outdoors. Indeed, indoor protests have been instrumental in effecting social and legal change. Throughout Florida’s history, the public has peacefully assembled inside the Capitol to advocate for or against issues and decisions impacting their livelihood,” the ACLU statement says.

The public would still be allowed to access the Capitol building “as necessary to permit the general public to transact official business or attend public meetings,” according to the proposed rules.

Outside of free speech concerns, the ACLU of Florida also addressed a provision in the rules that allows the Florida governor to light up the old Historic Florida Capitol building with colored lights “to communicate a message of support for a cause or event or to celebrate a holiday or other important date the governor wishes to support.”

According to the ACLU:

“This provision is imprudent and unnecessary, and could raise Establishment Clause and other constitutional concerns without any discernible benefit. While many lighting decisions may be innocuous, there is simply no reason that a sitting Governor’s preferred religious holiday(s), personal beliefs, personal support of issues, or campaign advertisements should be promoted or projected onto the Historic Capitol.”

The Establishment Clause refers to a section in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

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Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.


Anonymous said...

Barely heard a peep from DeSantis when MAGA terrorists smashed up the Capitol and tried to kill Nancy Pelosi as they were trying to certify the results of a free and fair election, but he wants to ban kids and peaceful protestors from protesting in government buildings? Also, to get elected, DeSantis supported the Orange election thief yet DeSantis created a phoney baloney election police to chase down people who weren't supposed to be voting. Nevermind the biggest election thief in American history resides in Palm Beach Florida. Why doesn't he investigate orange Hitler? Leaving things up to the federal government as usual so you can use any fallout to fuel your right wing propaganda. These empty suits are shameful. DeSantis lies and hypocrisy are endless.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to DeSantis, Florida is now a neo fascist exploitation state. Under the one party conservative state, they take "ask not what your country can do for you" to the extreme. Your sole purpose is to bring the rich their money and you will never see a dime of it again in any way, shape, or form. The minimum wage law was a miracle yet it's shameful to think how many lives have been effected over decades of low wages and grifting here in Florida. The federal government has had to lift the lower classes up in a myriad of ways here because Republicans have not sought a better quality of life for those who weren't born into wealth. For decades, other people's money from everywhere else in the nation has built Florida. The Republicans have done nothing but feed off that wealth and have done next to nothing to ensure that wealth can be created here locally especially in north Florida. Prisoners and real estate gambling don't cut it. We should have high speed rail here but no, Rick Scott was another empty suit, crook, and anti-government misanthrope.

Anonymous said...

Orange Hitler is lying his ass off after Joe Biden's epic state of the union speech. Twice impeached selfish billionaire Donald Trump got impeached and got a girl killed.. yet he's still going around telling lies. Shame on those who still support such a liar and con artist.