Protests to be held across Florida in opposition to new laws

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 2:56 PM EDT
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Statewide protests are scheduled to be held Saturday to push back against some of the recent measures passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by the governor.

Entitled "Stay W.O.K.E. Go Vote," the rallies will be held in communities throughout Florida, including West Palm Beach, to highlight the opposition to what some believe are attacks on the constitutional rights of Black voters.

State Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, will join other elected officials and residents in this weekend's protest.

“This weekend, we stand to fight against the trampling of our constitutional rights," Powell said in a written statement. "Anti-protest, anti-voter access, anti-Congressional representation, anti-Black history, every single one of these discriminatory, culture war bills passed during this administration has been targeted against the Black citizens of Florida. It’s the governor's resurrection of the right wing’s segregationist Southern Strategy in his bid to win re-election and, two years later, the White House. To this governor, we are the sacrificial lambs at the altar of his political ambitions."

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers have said that these laws will help secure fair elections and prevent voter fraud.

In addition to the controversial new elections law that was passed last year, the Legislature also passed the establishment of a new law enforcement agency for elections.

However, many voting rights groups believe the laws will curtail Black and minority voters to cast ballots and are meant to distract from more important issues like affordable housing and rising home insurance rates.

The ongoing congressional redistricting battle has also been a lightning rod of controversy, which minority voters believe will slash Black representation.

"We want to make sure people are 'woke.' We want to make sure people are aware of what is happening Tallahassee," Powell said. 'We're hoping to register enough people and to motivate enough people to get out and vote this time to change the person who's in the governor's mansion in Tallahassee."

Registered Republicans now outnumber Democrats in Florida, as DeSantis builds on his popularity with the GOP both in Florida and across the country.

“Democrats have been in trouble in Florida for a number of years,” WFLX political analyst Brian Crowley said. “There’s very little organization in the Florida Democratic Party. They’re trying to improve it now, but the long-term result of having years not be organized has resulted in Republicans being able to take over.”

Saturday's rally in West Palm Beach will begin at 2 p.m. at the Salvation Army Northwest Community Center located at 600 North Rosemary Ave.

For more information on this and other actions statewide, text “WOKE” to 52886.

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