Moral Monday rally at Florida State Capitol draws hundreds
Demands 'Higher Ground' for Florida
Tallahassee, FL – More than 200 people from Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami met at the steps of The Old Capitol in Tallahassee for Florida’s first Moral Monday rally, March 3. The NAACP organized the rally and was joined by other coalition members. Protesters discussed a people’s agenda for the next 60 days of the Florida legislative session, which began on March 4.
The rally was modeled after the giant Moral Monday rallies in North Carolina. Moral Mondays are a response to the North Carolina General Assembly’s extreme right-wing attacks on working people, women, immigrants and African Americans. Facing the Florida legislature's equally extreme right-wing politicians and Republican Governor Rick Scott, protesters demanded a state government committed to justice for working and oppressed people.
Protesters united behind the demands for affordable health care and Medicaid expansion, ex-felon rights restoration, jobs, public education, voting rights and an end to Governor Scott's infamous voter purges.
Out of all the demands spoken about during the rally, higher wages, ending Stand Your Ground laws, and freedom for 33-year-old African American mother Marissa Alexander received the most enthusiasm from the crowd. Alexander, a resident of Jacksonville, received a 20-year prison sentence for firing a warning shot to fend off her abusive husband in 2012. She has a new trial scheduled for July 2014 and progressive activists across the country are mobilizing to demand her freedom. However, Florida State Attorney Corey is now seeking a 60-year sentence for Marissa Alexander. Corey is the same Florida prosecutor who notoriously flubbed the murder trials of the men who separately killed Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.
The crowd heard from many speakers and groups, including Reverend William Barber of the North Carolina Moral Monday rallies, the NAACP, the Florida AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood and progressive churches, mosques and synagogues.
Congresswoman Corrine Brown also addressed the crowd, “The truth is when we are in politics, we only have two choices: one is the low road to destruction, and the other is the pathway to higher ground.” Invoking Dr. Martin Luther King, Barber stated, “I'm reminded that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Bearing signs that read, “We march to end racial profiling” and “We march for jobs and freedom,” the crowd chanted on the steps of the Capitol for more than four hours. Energy remained high for the entire event as activists from across Florida discussed future efforts to fight the state politicians’ right-wing policies.