A small crowd gathered in Kleman Plaza in downtown Tallahassee on Friday evening, rallying against some controversial bills being considered during the 2011 Legislative Session.
The rally, “Fight Back Florida,” was realized after its organizers shunned proposed state legislation that they believe is an attack on the working class, students and others. And on Friday evening, rallies to fend off these attacks kicked-off in several cities throughout the state.
Student groups from Florida A&M, Florida State, and Tallahassee Community College, as well as citizens took part in the assembly in Kleman Plaza and the subsequent march to the state Capitol Complex.
Potential laws that deal with women’s and workers rights, education, healthcare and the environment, were on the agendas of rally participants.
“We need to get active, we all need to be organizers. This our future he’s [Scott] playing with and we aren’t going to go without a fight,” said the rally’s local organizer, Patrick Shepherd, a 21-year-old FSU student from Clearwater.
“Florida is going to fight back, we’re not going to accept the fact they’re cutting services that are important to citizens,” said FSU student Cecelia O’Brien, a junior from West Palm Beach.
“They say cut-back, we say fight back!,” protestors chanted at the passing cars on Duval Street adjacent to the Plaza, only to be drowned out by the honking horns of approval of passing drivers.
“We’re being attacked on multiple fronts, and not much is being done about it,” said John Saullo of Tallahassee. “Its really important that we get people involved.”
Tallahassee’s Fight Back Florida Rally began at 5: 30 p.m. with an opening speech by Shepherd. Others would also muse the lone megaphone to rouse the crowd, which appeared to have surpassed 100 by the rally’s official beginning. No authorities were present during this time.
“We’re here today to fight to stand-up for our rights,” Jamaal Rose, a pre-aw student at FAMU shouted into the megaphone.
Rep. Mark Pafford (D-Palm Beach) gave his thoughts on the legislative happenings in the capitol this year.
“I’m angry as hell, and you need to be angry as hell!,” Pafford said, later referring to Gov. Rick Scott as the Harry Potter character “Lord Voldemort.”
“We cut the throats out of workers unions, and I’m ashamed of that,” said Pafford of the bill passed today in the House, banning payroll deductions of dues and requiring labor organizations to get individual members’ approval before using their payments for political purposes.
The legislation passed with 73-40 vote, with three Republicans reportedly voting in opposition. The bill is now headed to the Senate.