During last week’s Florida Gubernatorial debate, Governor Rick Scott responded to a question about the killing of Trayvon Martin by thanking Martin’s parents for helping Florida avoid “the problems they had in Missouri.” This bizarre and disrespectful answer made clear how neither candidate has acknowledged the issues important to black and brown Florida communities. Florida New Majority and the Dream Defenders have both launched petitions on Iam.ColorOfChange.org demanding debate moderators Jake Tapper and Kent Justice ask both candidates to clarify their positions on two issues important to Floridians: attacks on our right to vote and the criminalization of black and brown youth. The final debate will air on CNN October 21.
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, said, “Gov. Scott’s defense of Stand Your Ground and disgraceful rebuke of Mike Brown’s parents demonstrated his refusal to address the issues of concern for Black Floridians. Police brutality, discriminatory policing and the criminalization of youth are issues affecting our communities from Ferguson, Missouri to Jacksonville, Florida. Last week’s debate left us with more questions than answers as we are about to head to the polls. In the final debate, Jake Tapper and Kent Justice must push both candidates to answer how they will address these nationwide crises.
“We’ve seen decades of extremist and corporate interests running our state and ravaging our communities and families, all of which has been enabled by elected officials.” said Phillip Agnew, Executive Director of Dream Defenders. “This is life or death for us, and we want our issues to be addressed by the Candidates.
Florida is the epicenter of the right wing attack on the rising new majority’s freedom to vote. Since 2011, the far-right in Florida has tried to pass more than 180 laws intended to restrict voting rights and keep Black voters, young people, women, Latino communities and other voters of color from the polls.
Gihan Perera, Executive Director of Florida New Majority, said, “Basic democracy has been denied for millions of Floridians. In Florida, voting rights are subject to racial profiling. Governor Scott and members of his party have sought to intentionally suppress the Black vote in particular, but Scott also led a purge on Latino voters. Over 1.5 million citizens are barred from voting because a broken criminal justice system and Scott made it nearly impossible for returning citizens to get their voting rights back; all of this for political gain. It’s time to move forward for an inclusive Florida for where voting is a fundamental right for all. It is time to hear where the candidates stand on these issues. They must put it on the record for all of Florida to hear.”