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Florida: Rally to oppose SB 576 and defend civilian oversight of police

By Delilah Pierre

Tallahassee action demands civilian oversight of police.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Tallahassee, FL – On February 24, about a dozen community organizers and students mobilized to the Florida Historic Capitol building to rally against SB 576, as well as attacks on the pro-Palestinian movement and attacks on the LGBTQ community.

The mobilization was part of a larger week of action called by National Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR).

SB 576 seeks to limit police oversight by restricting the ability of cities to institute police review boards as a means to provide any form of accountability for local police departments.

Joelle Nunez, president of Florida State University SDS, said, “They’re only trying to pass these bills because they’re scared of the gains we’ve made fighting for police accountability. It’s the same thing with the bills trying to scare students into not supporting Palestine – they’re only trying to pass them to scare people away from fighting back against oppression. We know that’s not going to work.”

SB576 would end the Citizens Police Review Board created in Tallahassee in 2020, and make it impossible for any other Citizens Police Review Boards to exist. This is after City Commissioners Dianne William-Cox, Curtis Richardson and John Daley voted to remove Taylor Keta, a progressive member of the board, and limit the Citizens Police Review Board’s ability to make public press statements, organize in the local community, and have its own social media.

“The Citizens Police Review Board in Tallahassee might be imperfect, but it’s one of the few review boards in Florida that gives people the power to at least discuss their complaints about policing. The deaths of Tony McDade, Wilbon Woodard, Raheem Reeder and Mychael Johnson at the hands of the Tallahassee Police Department in 2020 and 2021 shouldn’t be forgotten. Police brutality won’t end until there is real community oversight of policing,” said Delilah Pierre, president of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee.

Although community members gathered primarily in opposition to SB 576, organizers and speakers also highlighted other backwards bills making their way through the legislature. Florida Republicans and Democrats are attacking activists and students standing in solidarity with Palestinian liberation against the U.S.-funded genocide, as well as limiting the freedom of LGBTQ youth and adults to live as their authentic selves.

“It is so important for us to realize and recognize that our connection here in Tallahassee is so connected to the struggle in Palestine, it’s so connected to so many other liberation movements that are just trying to fight for the most basic rights,” said Regina Joseph, a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

“We as working-class and oppressed people are the reason why this entire country exists – we are what makes this country run,” said Joseph.

#TallahasseeFL #InJusticeSystem #CommunityControlOfPolice #SDS #NAARPR #FRSO #FSUSDS