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Florida

Palm Beach Residents Sue County Over Its Israel Investments

In the first legal action of its kind, a group of Palm Beach residents are suing the Florida county over its massive investment in Israeli bonds. Palm Beach has invested $700 million in the bonds, 22 times more than any other county in the United States. On May 15, dozens of local organizers and human rights advocates gathered outside the county’s courthouse for a press conference announcing the move. David Piña, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, told the crowd that Comptroller and Clerk of the Circuit Court Joseph Abruzzo had put 15% of the county’s investments in Israeli bonds. “[Abruzzo] has has not only failed us morally, he’s also violated two state statutes in the process,” Piña explained.

Student-Led Climate Action Is Flourishing In Florida

The University of Florida made history last month when its student senate became the first at a public university to pass a climate resolution in support of Green New Deal policies. The “Green New Deal for UF” is a statement of support for bold, progressive climate action put forward by students at a time when the far-right holds a near monopoly on power in the state. “This is big news for the climate movement at universities — not just in Florida, but everywhere,” said Cameron Driggers, a UF freshman. “It’s a first of its kind resolution that pushes back against the narrative that some states are lost causes for climate action.”

US Higher Education Is Being Gutted, But We Can Fight Back

In January 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis overhauled the Board of Trustees of the New College of Florida, replacing several members with conservative activists, including Christopher Rufo. New College of Florida was known as a hippie college, a queer college, but Rufo aimed to change all that, saying, “We will be shutting down low-performing, ideologically-captured academic departments and hiring new faculty.” He added, “The student body will be recomposed over time: some current students will self-select out, others will graduate; we’ll recruit new students who are mission-aligned.”

Tens Of Thousands Of Florida Workers Just Lost Their Labor Unions

In St. Johns County, on the Atlantic shore of Northeast Florida, more than 55% of public school teachers paid their union dues this last year. Despite that, nearly 3,500 teachers are facing the threat of having their union representation revoked. At the same time, in Southwest Florida, only 16% of law enforcement officers of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office paid union dues last year. Their union is under absolutely no threat of being decertified. A year after Governor DeSantis signed into law a sweeping anti-union bill requiring most public sector unions to boost the rate of members paying dues or be disbanded, the full effects of the new union rules are coming into clear view — double standards and all.

What We Can Learn From One Florida Community About Climate Resilience

The health and safety we enjoy as individuals and the opportunities for employment, education, and recreation available to us are shaped to a large degree by the built environment in which we live. For the past 70 years, the vast majority of new housing development has followed the example of Levittown, New York. The city now serves as the poster child for a seemingly endless wave of car-dependent greenfield suburban sprawl developments that not only helped to generate the carbon emissions that contribute to the climate crisis we now face but also modeled a form of growth that provided opportunity for wealth creation for some households and not others.

Charges Dropped On The Tampa Five

The Tampa 5 are proud to announce a great victory: their misdemeanor and felony charges will be dropped! This victory was made possible by months of mobilizations of people across the state of Florida, and even across the entire country, in defense of the Tampa 5. It is because of the bravery of students and youth protesters coming out for diversity and for student protest, that these five members of Students for a Democratic Society protesters will not see a single day in prison. They have just agreed to a misdemeanor intervention program that will lead to the dismissal of their charges upon the fulfillment of various conditions such as 24 hours of community service.

Statement On FSU’s Attempted Repression Of Pro-Palestinian Activism

Tallahassee, Florida – Since October 11th, Florida State University SDS has been involved in actions in support of Palestine and the Palestinian people. Throughout this campaign, the students at FSU have made specific demands of our university. Our demands are that President Richard McCullough rewrite the shameful letter to FSU students that only mentioned Israeli students' grief and trauma, that the university cut all ties with Boeing which builds the airplanes that drop bombs on innocent Palestinians, and that FSU ends its support of Zionist organizations like Hillel & Chabad and their birthright programs to Israel.

Conservatives Can’t Stop Waging War On Schools

Florida is fertile ground for the long-standing Republican war on education. Florida’s Advanced Placement (AP) psychology courses — college-level courses taught in high schools — were temporarily banned because of content related to sex and gender, and the state’s AP African American studies curriculum has removed such topics as Black Lives Matter. The Florida Board of Education even adopted the right-wing misinformation platform PragerU into its curriculum, which downplays slavery and colonialism. This landscape isn’t new. Some 15 years ago, Kate Sheppard reported on one widely used textbook littered with factual misrepresentations, making students ​“choose between hard facts and the answers that their official curriculum [deemed] correct.”

The Tampa Five: An Assault On Free Speech

On March 6, 2023, a small group of protesters belonging to the University of South Florida chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, trooped across campus to the Patel Center where the university president, Rhea Law has her office. The marchers were mostly young women carrying nothing more sinister than a megaphone, a banner reading “we want increased Black enrollment” and the water bottles ubiquitous among students on Florida campuses. In addition to their demands for higher Black enrollment, they wanted President Law to speak out in opposition to proposed Florida HB999 which banned diversity initiatives, and a meeting with her.

Tallahassee Community Pushes For LGBTQ Sanctuary City

Tallahassee, FL - On July 13 Tallahassee community organizers and experts gave presentations at the Mayor's LGBTQ+ Advisory Council at City Hall. The presentation's focus was the demand to transform Tallahassee into an LGBTQ sanctuary city. The Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC), represented by its president, Delilah Pierre, and communications director, Regina Joseph, led the program. The presentation was created in response to the anti-LGBTQ policies enacted under Governor Ron DeSantis' administration. These laws include the anti-trans law that forces people to use the bathroom associated with their assigned sex at birth and the ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

Veterans Quit DeSantis’ Florida State Guard Over Militia-Style Training

When the first recruiting class of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new Florida State Guard showed up for training last month, they had varied experiences and expectations. Over 30 days in June, teenagers out of high school and retired military veterans came to Camp Blanding, the National Guard base near Jacksonville. Many were told they would volunteer for a revived State Guard with a nonmilitary mission: help Floridians in times of need or disaster. Instead, the state’s National Guard trained the volunteers for combat. Khakis and polos were replaced by camouflaged uniforms. Volunteers assured they could keep their facial hair were ordered to shave.

Protests Erupt Across Florida As Senate Bill 1718 Goes Into Effect

Across Florida, protests are taking place to mark the beginning of an immigrant labor stoppage that is scheduled to last until at least July 3rd. Large crowds are being reported in Orlando, Tampa, and various areas in South Florida and as far away as Chicago and California. As SB 1718 goes into effect, the anger and economic concerns felt by many across the state forced Republican legislators to backpedal earlier this week. (See more about the new law in our last report.) Despite spin from elected state officials claiming the law “has no teeth,” thousands of undocumented immigrants and mixed-status families have already fled the state, leaving job sites and agricultural fields nearly empty.

With Strike Looming, UPS Teamsters Win Air Conditioning, Other Gains

Tampa, Florida - Since national negotiations started in March, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has reached many tentative agreements in their national contract with United Parcel Service. These agreements that will benefit Teamsters include but are not limited to better cooling systems in package cars, strengthened grievance procedures, and the creation of more union jobs. The current Teamsters contract with UPS was a five-year agreement which expires on July 31. Unless the Teamsters bargaining team reaches a tentative agreement with UPS for a next contract and the rank and file votes “yes” by July 31, over 300,000 Teamsters are set to strike on August 1.

Chinese Immigrants Sue Florida Over Unconstitutional, Discriminatory Law

Tallahassee, Florida — A group of Chinese citizens who live, work, study, and raise families in Florida, as well as a real estate brokerage firm in Florida that primarily serves clients of Chinese descent, are filing a lawsuit to combat Florida’s discriminatory property law, SB 264. Signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the legislation unfairly restricts most Chinese citizens — and most citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea — from purchasing homes in the state. Unless the courts act, the law will take effect on July 1, 2023. The plaintiffs are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Florida, DeHeng Law Offices PC, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), in coordination with the Chinese American Legal Defense Alliance (CALDA).

The Tampa 5 Are Facing Ten-Plus Years In Jail

Tampa, Florida – Florida state prosecutor Justin Diaz it trying to put the Tampa 5 in prison. The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) members, arrested at a campus protest against the racist agenda of Governor Ron DeSantis, each face a trumped-up felony charge, alleging “battery on a police officer,” carrying five years of jail time. When the activists rejected a plea deal requiring them to apologize for doing the right thing, the prosecutor added on more felony charges. This means that three of the activists are facing more than ten years behind bars. In addition, the activists face ten misdemeanor charges.
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