By Staff of Water Protector Alliance – Hundreds of water protectors gathered in peaceful protest singing and praying. Water trucks needed to drill under the river were blocked for hours. For the first time in history Suwannee River State Park was closed due to capacity. Suwannee County Sheriffs, Florida Highway Patrol, Fish & Wildlife Commission and State Park Rangers arrived in large numbers. No arrests were made and no one was hurt. The Floridan Aquifer, water quality, and ecology are being threatened. Communities have mobilized and are on the move, STAND NOW FOR CLEAN WATER!
By Kate Bradshaw for Creative Lofting Tampa Bay – Temperatures were dipping into unfriendly territory Saturday afternoon as sports fans flocked to the events at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. At nearby Lykes Gaslight Park, members of Tampa’s homeless community were gathered for hot coffee and bagels, courtesy of the group Food Not Bombs. There were no altercations, no illicit substances, no bad behavior—unless you count that, according to the City of Tampa, that coffee and bagels were illegal. Why? Because you have to have a special permit in order to offer free food to the needy in city parks.
By Fred Grimm for Miami Herald – The leaked recording should have been political dynamite. Except it only confirmed what solar energy advocates already knew: Florida’s electric utility monopolies had engineered a ballot initiative composed of mendacious doublespeak. Amendment One, an unseemly misnomer entitled “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice,” was no more than “political jiu-jitsu,”…
By Mark Joseph Stern for The Slate – On Tuesday, Florida voters kicked Jacksonville prosecutor Angela Corey out of office. Corey garnered just 26 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. Her rival, Melissa Nelson, defeated her by a 38-point margin. Nelson is reform-minded but also touts a National Rifle Association endorsement. She will run unopposed in November. Corey is widely known as one of the cruelest and deadliest prosecutors in America. She is infamous for vigorously prosecuting Marissa Alexander, a black woman who fired a warning shot into a wall during an altercation with her abusive husband.
By Katie Pohlman for Eco Watch – The East Coast Greenway will stretch from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida, a 2,900-mile distance. The project will provide non-motorized users a unique way to travel up and down the East Coast through 25 cities and 16 states. Walkers, cyclists, runners and other active-transportation users will be able to travel on a continuous, firm and paved greenway with a route specifically designed to give travelers a traffic-free experience, East Coast Greenway Alliance, the non-profit organization behind the project.
By Christine Baniewicz for Truthout – Nothing particularly alarming seemed to transpire in the Florida State Capitol building during this January’s Senate floor hearing of Florida SB 86. No vocal dissent cropped up between senators, and there was no public testimony – just a wall full of little green lights flicking on as every legislator in the chamber voted the bill through. However benign in appearance, that wall of green lights signals an alarming violation of Floridians’ First Amendment rights.
By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News – South Florida, home to one of the country’s most fragile water systems, could be the nation’s next fracking frontier. The Florida House of Representatives voted 73-45 on Jan. 27 to approve abill that opens the door to fracking by 2017 after the state studies the environmental and public health risks. Next, the bill requires state regulators to draft rules governing the practice, which could begin in 2018 or 2019. This is the third time in three years the Florida House has passed a version of this bill.
By Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post, A battle over Florida’s public education system may be reaching a tipping point, with school superintendents revolting against the state’s school accountability system and editorial boards of major newspapers now weighing in on their side. One, the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, is warning against the collapse of that system. The Florida Association of District School Superintendents issued a statement on Sept. 25 saying that superintendents have “lost confidence” in the current accountability system for students and schools, which is based on the scores students receive on the controversial Florida Standards Assessments. The superintendents called for a suspension of the accountability system and a full review.
By EarthFirst! – Six people were arrested today for demonstrating against the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Spanish invasion of so-called Saint Augustine, Florida.Arrestees are being held at the St Johns County Jail with misdemeanor charges. So far, three have been released. The support team does not have enough support to bond out all arrestees. Tribal elders and the Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples called for resistance demonstrations months ago. The Council asked Saint Augustine city officials not to glorify the rape, torture, displacement, enslavement, and genocide that accompanied European colonization but they were repeatedly ignored.
By Bruce Wright in Gulf Coast Greens – This movement is a grassroots movement from the bottom up of Homeless, formerly homeless, and their supporters in Florida. This is a movement, a coalition forming to answer and struggle with those who would criminalize folks simply because they are homeless. It is a movement in several cities uniting around this idea of fighting back and not allowing the non-profit industrial complex “sell out” the homeless community simply because these non-profits don’t want to “rock the boat” and lose their funding. This movement’s cities include St. Petersburg, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Sarasota, Brooksville, and Gainesville. It includes homeless folks who have been criminalized by the system and ”left out to hang” by non-profits that do not have the guts to stand up to power on behalf of the homeless.
An employee of Florida’s environmental protection department was forced to take a leave of absence and seek a mental health evaluation for violating governor Rick Scott’s unwritten ban on using the phrases “climate change” or “global warming” under any circumstance, according to a complaint filed against the state. Longtime employee Barton Bibler reportedly included an explicit mention of climate change in his official notes from a Florida Coastal Managers Forum meeting in late February, during which climate change, rising sea levels and the possible environmental impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline were discussed. On 9 March, Bibler received a formal reprimand for “misrepresenting that ‘the official meeting agenda included climate change’”, according to a statement from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer).
In August 2010, Marissa Alexander fired a warning shot with a lawfully registered gun to keep her abusive and estranged husband from killing her in her home in Florida. No one was hurt, but Alexander was arrested and charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. After years of navigating the legal system and spending three years incarcerated, on Tuesday, January 27th, Alexander is expected to be released from the Duval County Jail. She will spend two years under house arrest while wearing an ankle monitor. Activists from around the country will converge on Jacksonville and in their home cities to stand in solidarity with Alexander and bring visibility to women who have been targeted for their resilience and survival.
Two hundred years ago, quilts were an integral part of the Underground Railroad. Abolitionists sewed patterns into the squares of their quilts. They then hung the quilts in their yards, ostensibly to air them out. Runaway slaves could use the squares to identify friendly people, possible guides, preparations and directions towards freedom. This Tuesday, January 27, quilt squares will once again serve as a beacon towards freedom. In Jacksonville, Fla., the lawn outside the Duval County Courthouse will beblanketed with quilt squares. The reason: to bring attention to and protest the continued prosecution of Marissa Alexander, a black woman, mother of three and domestic violence survivor. Collected by the Monument Quilt, an ongoing project that crowd-sources stories of domestic and sexual violence, each of the 350 four-foot by four-foot squares contains a message about domestic violence or sexual assault.
Tampa activists Dezeray Lyn and Chris Mince are joining two South Florida food sharing activists on a hunger strike to protest a recent crackdown on feeding the hungry in Ft. Lauderdale. “There’s nothing that would stop me from expressing my humanity for the people I’ve grown to live,”said Lyn. The arrest of 90-year-old Arnold Abbott, a longtime social activist who feeds the homeless in Ft. Lauderdale, has sparked national attention and outrage among people who routinely organize food sharing in parks. Lyn says one of her fellow activists in South Florida has now gone without food for 22 days and another hasn’t eaten anything in 11 days to protest the food sharing crackdown.