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Fight Back Florida stands up to Governor Scott’s cuts, attacks on public workers

By Jared Hamil

Students, workers, and community members take a lane as they march downtown to C

Gainesville, FL – About 300 workers and students demonstrated here, March 25, against the state government's attacks and cuts. The protest was organized by Fight Back Florida, a coalition of union members and students who organized rallies all over the state. In addition to Gainesville's rally and march, 14 other cities joined in a day of action against Governor Rick Scott's attempt to make public employees pay for the budget crisis. People around Florida joined together to tell the government that if it cuts back, “we will fight back.”

Governor Rick Scott, a multimillionaire, claims that public employees like teachers, bus drivers and communication workers are to blame for the crisis. Meanwhile, Scott has given record tax cuts to corporations and the rich – those responsible for the crisis.

Students and workers started out rallying at the University of Florida campus. Students will be largely affected by the massive cuts to scholarships and grants. These grants and scholarships are the only things that allow poor and working-class students to go to school.

The 300 people who met at the campus rally listened to a wide range of speakers, including representatives from the local ACEA (teacher's union), SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), the electricians (IBEW) and a number of other local unions being attacked by Governor Scott's budget cuts. The representative of the teachers union said, “it isn't just about pensions or the FCAT [the standardized test required for K-12 students], it's about freedom!” The crowd then chanted “Freedom!” From there, hundreds of people marched down to City Hall, taking up (and holding up) a lane of traffic. Armed with megaphones, the people chanted, “Tax the rich!” and “Hey hey! Ho ho! Rick Scott has got to go!”

Once at City Hall, the city government was put on the spot. Rally leaders read a document titled “Fight Back Florida Declaration from City Hall.” The people demanded that the city protect its workers, students and families. From there, a banner was mounted over the doors declaring the city of Gainesville a Labor Sanctuary – a safe haven from Governor Scott's massive cuts. The declaration was also taped to the door. Only people united can protect themselves from the right-wing attacks of the state government.

At rallies across the state of Florida, thousands of people fought for the same thing: To protect their jobs and families from attacks by corporations, the rich and the bought and paid for politicians. The protesters will continue to fight so the people’s needs are met – for education, emergency services, public transportation and social services. The Republican governor and the rich want more profits for the few. Fight Back Florida plans to meet and continue to fight to make the rich pay for the crisis they created.

Members of the Coalition tape a banner up on the doors of City Hall

Angry protestors listen to speakers from various unions

#GainesvilleFL #StudentMovement #GainesvilleAreaStudentsForADemocraticSocietySDS #FightBackFlorida #GovernorRickScott