LaTosha Brown and Cliff Albright, co-founders of Black Voters Matter, issued this statement following the Senate’s passage of Florida’s House Bill 1, which infringes on the rights of Florida residents to peacefully protest:
“This bill is a clear and coordinated attack on Black Florida residents and our First Amendment rights. Last year, after losing countless Black men and women to racial violence, Black people tapped into the power of our communities and took to the streets to show our anger, frustration, and exhaustion with how we are treated in this country. We were beaten, maced, and arrested en masse while we defended our right to protest. And despite efforts from local, state, and federal authorities to silence us with police violence and military intervention, we took that power all the way to the voting booth in November to make history in last year’s elections.
“Now, the Florida legislature is actively working to criminalize these protests and kill the power of our Black communities, because they know what Black power can do and they view us as a political threat.
“Not only is this a flagrant violation of a core American value and an attack on our democracy; it’s a vicious double-standard. Earlier this year, thousands of white supremacists and radical vigilantes led a deadly riot at the nation’s capital and got kid-glove treatment from police and other officials. But Black-led protests for racial justice and equity were met with violence, hostility, and blatantly racist rhetoric — including from the former President. The issue for Florida lawmakers is not combating protest violence; it’s silencing Black communities.
“But we won’t be silenced. Protests have been an engine for change in Black communities for decades, and we will continue to be in the streets until we see the changes this country urgently needs — like stopping Florida Senate Bill 90 and other measures to restrict ballot access. Governor Ron DeSantis must veto HB1 and protect the constitutional rights of Florida’s Black residents.”