Moral Monday protests in Tallahassee will target civil rights
Activists from across the state will converge on Tallahassee next week for Moral Monday. More than a dozen groups will demand a host of changes to state laws. Reverend R.L. Gundy of the Florida Southern Christian Leadership Conference says the coalition aims at tackling issues surrounding low-income and minority Florida residents.
Florida is the last Birmingham of the South. Our rights are trampled over by uncaring and uncertain legislative bodies that simply say, were going to legislate these things they gerrymandered these districts that if were not careful, when things change in Florida, well have another apartheid system in the State of Florida.
Among those issues are restoring voting rights to returning citizens who have completed prison sentences for felony convictions. One of the biggest issues activists are targeting is the states failure to accept federal funding - $51 billion to expand Medicaid to more than a million people who now fall into a coverage gap. That means they dont qualify for healthcare subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, but they cant get Medicaid either. Tobias Packer is the senior communications coordinator for SEIU Florida a state labor union.
In a study published in late January, researchers from Harvard University and estimate between 1,100 and 2,200 Floridians will die from lack of Medicaid access. That translates to approximately six deaths per day.
Activists in North Carolina organized Moral Monday actions last year and another this month on the fifty-fourth anniversary of a civil rights movement launched in Greensboro. The protests there drew thousands and took aim at many policies passed by the Republican-controlled legislature similar to laws passed in Florida. One parallel complaint among both Florida and North Carolina groups is a push for school vouchers that allow students in failing public schools to use public funding to go to a private school. Adora Obi-Nweze said policies like that allow the state to ignore struggling public schools.
Its very critical that we get a high quality education for our children. The dollars that are being cut as a result of dollars being siphoned off from the public school district is stopping our children from being able to have a quality education and pushing them into the jailhouse pipeline.
Nweze says the groups will also give Governor Rick Scott a report card grading his performance.
In terms of identifying those issues that were not passed in last years legislative session and those bills that will be addressed in this years session.
Based on the laundry list of complaints laid out during a phone conference Monday, that report card isnt likely to be very good. Among other complaints is Floridas controversial Stand Your Ground law. Critics say it gives vigilantes an excuse to shoot first and think later. Dareon Bolden, president of the Baptist Leadership Conference of Duval County, says its a law that seems to disproportionately affect African-Americans.
Whereby, [George] Zimmerman walked and Marissa Alexander received 20-years. No one got injured in her incident, where a young boy, Trayvon Martin, life got ended with [George] Zimmerman.
Bolden is referring to George Zimmerman who was acquitted of murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Marissa Alexander is the woman sentenced based on mandatory minimums after she fired a warning shot near her husband who had a history of abuse and she claims was threatening her. Florida lawmakers have so far failed to make any changes to the law despite public outcry. Mallory Garner-Wells with Equality Florida says her group stands in solidarity with all the others. She adds her group is pushing for a law called the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.
Which would make it illegal to fire somebody just because theyre gay. Just to clarify, right now, in 2014 in the State of Florida, someone can be fired from their job, denied access housing or public accommodations like hotels, movie theaters and sports stadiums simply because theyre gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender.
Activists hope the March 3 Moral Monday protests will get more voters to the polls this November and offer a chance to educate people on issues. In addition to Florida and North Carolina, Moral Monday protests have also been organized in Georgia and South Carolina.comments powered by Disqus