Activists arrested at FL state capitol for opposing abortion ban law
Tallahassee, FL- On February 17, around 12 a.m., members of Students for a Democratic Society and Tallahassee’s chapter of Planned Parenthood were given trespassing warnings for speaking up against HB 5, an abortion ban bill that limits abortions to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. After HB5 was passed despite significant public opposition, organizers and students joined a chant denouncing the bill and were subsequently removed from the capitol.
Capitol Police threatened to arrest organizers if they did not sign a trespassing warning that indefinitely banned them from entering the Florida Capitol Building. Planned Parenthood activist Lauren Brenzel was arrested and detained for not signing the trespassing warning. Both Brenzel and Lakey Love, the leader of the Florida Coalition for Transgender Liberation and a member of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, were threatened with trespassing warnings at the capitol, being targeted for their role in organizing against HB 7, a bill that would seriously restrict any serious discussion of race, gender or sexuality in the classroom, and HB 5. Love and Brenzel had not participated in any civil disobedience at the time of their arrest.
“This year the sergeant at arms in the House of Representatives tried to violate me for trespassing when I was doing nothing wrong. That would have blocked me from the Florida House Office Building for over a year, requiring permission from the House sergeant at arms to enter and enter only with a Capitol Police escort. I got them to drop the issue but only by having everyone in my group go live and film, demanding they give me a legitimate reason, and calling in a legal observer,” said Love.
Cas Casanova, an attendee at the HB5 hearing and a member of the Students for A Democratic Society, also commented on the situation, expressing disappointment in the conduct of the Florida House.
“We were told from the second we walked in that ‘freedom of speech doesn’t exist here’ [at the Florida House]. The voices of Floridians, from student to the community members, are not valued by our representatives or our government,” said Casanova.
SDS, TCAC, and other organizations vowed to fight against this repression and make sure organizers in Tallahassee have the right to protest injustice.