Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis will now only allow events at the state capitol in Tallahassee, including protests and demonstrations, if the goals of groups holding events "align with the state" and the current regime.
The new rules specify that organizations must make their requests through DeSantis administration agency heads, the House speaker or any member of the Senate. The chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court can also ask on their behalf.
The DMS letters caught by surprise several groups that have for years requested space in the Capitol to host education events for their particular mission. There are dozens of annual events during the legislative session that include state universities having advocacy days, or specific advocacy groups holding informational and educational days in the Capitol during session to increase awareness of their issues of concern. Most events are uncontroversial and not tied to protesting specific issues being considered, or any specific piece of legislation.
“It seems counterintuitive to our rights that you have to ask an agency to ask on your behalf to use space at the Capitol to simply educate the Legislature,” said a lobbyist who for years has planned Capitol events for clients. “And only if your mission lines up with the agencies’ mission is having space for displays on DMS property potentially allowed.”
“Does this rule really protect the constitutional right to assembly, and the right to petition the governor for a redress of grievances,” added the person, who was granted anonymity because they were concerned about retribution for speaking against the new DeSantis administration policy.
The changes have created concern that any event deemed not in line with a DeSantis administration “mission” could be denied space, a situation that some fear would affect demonstrators who protest controversial pieces of legislation, a common hallmark of Florida’s legislative process.
Each year, protesters have filled the Capitol rotunda, generally in opposition to Republican legislative priorities because that party is in the majority, though recently anti-abortion protesters filled the Capitol to urge the GOP-dominated Legislature to pass legislation that would lessen the period of time a woman can have an abortion from the recently passed 15-week ban.
“It is absolutely absurd and against our First Amendment right,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando). “It does not surprise that as GOP bans abortions, attacks LGBTQ+ rights, bans books and passes corporate tax breaks that they want to suppress freedom of speech and First Amendment rights.”
The rule changes also define “demonstration activity,” which covers things like “demonstrating, parading, picketing, speech making, holding of vigils, sit-ins, or other similar activities conducted for the purpose of demonstrating approval or disapproval of government policies ... expressing a view on public issues, or bringing into public notice any issue or other matter.”
Those activities would be less regulated and still allowed outside the Capitol complex. But the new rules include language that allows DMS to request organizers “reduce in size and scope” their event.
The fascism is now on open display in the state and will continue for years to come. If we're not careful, this will be nationwide under a DeSantis federal regime, too.
Oh, and in DeSantis's Florida, we've now reached the point where journalists covering shootings are getting shot themselves.
A Florida man suspected of killing a woman Wednesday returned to the scene hours later and shot four other people, killing a 9-year-old girl and a television news journalist, authorities said.
A Spectrum News 13 crew was in Pine Hills shortly after 4 p.m. covering the slaying of a woman in her 20s who had been found shot in the area around 11 a.m., Sheriff John Mina said.
Keith Melvin Moses, 19, the suspect in the woman's killing, returned and fired at the reporter and a photojournalist who were in or near a vehicle, Mina said.
The reporter, identified by Spectrum News 13 early Thursday morning as Dylan Lyons, died from his injuries, Mina said. The photojournalist, who the outlet identified as Jesse Walden, was critically injured.
Moses then went to a nearby home, walked inside and shot a woman and her 9-year-old daughter, the sheriff said. The girl died. The mother was critically injured.
The suspect was arrested in the area and is being charged in the initial slaying, Mina said. Moses will be charged in the four other shootings later, Mina said.
"The suspect is not saying much right now," Mina said. "It is unclear if he knew they were news media or not."
Mina said there is no apparent connection between Moses and the mother and the child who were shot Wednesday afternoon.
The woman killed earlier was an acquaintance of the suspect, he said.
This week, Florida Republicans are rushing through permitless concealed carry to make it even easier to have a gun to use when you get angry at someone. More people will die, more mothers, more 9-year-olds, more journalists covering previous shootings. DeSantis, of course, doesn't give a damn.