This year, as politicians vie for elected office in the Sunshine State, we - Black, immigrant and poor young people from Pensacola to the Keys - have launched our own agenda for the future of Florida. In 2018, we were killed in our classrooms and on street corners. We were locked inside Florida’s prisons and the keys were thrown away. We live in a state with more billionaires than almost anywhere in the country, yet, our parents and our teachers didn’t have the basic resources they needed to keep us safe.
This ends today. In 2018, we aren't demanding "change" or "hope", though both are welcome. We are demanding that our elected representatives put our safety before corporate profits. The Freedom Papers is our vision for a Florida that is able to serve the everyday needs of its people. Our state spends $55,000 a year to jail our children, and only $7,000 a year to educate them. They tell us they don’t have money for raises, for books, for food stamps and for housing. What they don’t tell us is that these resources have been stolen from us by big corporations like prison giant the GEO Group and murder lobby the National Rifle Association. They have bought-off our elected officials to build a Florida that serves their needs and turning our state into a for-profit police state at the expense of the safety of our children.
We can live in a state -- in a country -- where no child is left alone, in the cold, or behind bars, where children feel free and safe when they walk to the store, play in the park, or are on their way to school in the morning. We can live in a state where parents and teachers are given everything they need to support the raising of our children. We don’t have to let another parent lose their child to a bullet, a badge or a dollar sign. This Florida is possible, but only with a drastic shift in our politician’s priorities - one that values the needs of every day people, rather than fattening the wallets of a few.
Today, we ask that you choose to support this vision. We want a state and country that keeps its children safe, a Florida and U.S. that gives everyday people - who have been forced to struggle for far too long just to survive - their Freedom Papers.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.’’
What becomes of a people born and raised in a culture of violence and greed? Who survives in a nation raised on racist lies, not love? How did we get here? Why does this keep happening? What can we do?
On Wednesday, two Black people were shot and killed while doing their afternoon grocery shopping and on Saturday, 11 Jews were killed while at prayer. Our hearts are with their families and communities. We stand with them in a collective outpouring of anger and sadness. This did not have to happen. We did not have to lose these lives.
- Richard Gottfried, 68
- Rose Mallinger, 97
- Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
- Cecil Rosenthal, 59
- David Rosenthal, 54
- Bernice Simon, 84
- Sylvan Simon, 86
- Daniel Stein, 71
- Melvin Wax, 88
- Irving Younger, 69
- Maurice Stallard, 69
- Vickie Jones, 67
We say their names together because these acts of hate are deeply connected.
They are a result of a growing far right movement being led by Trump’s whitehouse. They use racist, anti-semitic, anti-immigrant lies to stoke fear and to sew division amongst us. In an atmosphere where people are struggling with growing poverty and isolation, the right wants us to believe that we are each other's greatest enemy.
They tell us that the real problem ain’t them, the REAL problem is that nigger or that illegal or that jew or or that muslim or that redneck. Meanwhile, they make millions off of keeping us divided, while fueling violence so we do away with each other, rather than rise up against them.
This rise in the far right goes way beyond US borders. On Sunday, Brazil elected Jair Bolson as their president. He has openly campaigned on genocide against Black people, the LGBT community and activists. And in Yemen, everyday, 130 children die of malnutrition at the hands of a senseless war based on power and greed by the Saudi government and backed by the US. These are just some examples of the ways everyday people all around the world are experiencing senseless death and destruction of our communities, while those in power continue to make millions on this division.
Here in Florida, Desantis has run a campaign straight from this same playbook. He has spread lies and racism about Mayor Andrew Gillum and about the Dream Defenders - inciting violence and hate towards our state’s first Black gubernatorial candidate and a youth organization, fighting for the freedom and liberation of ALL Floridians.
We recognize that these attacks are all connected and that the only way to fight back is to come together. We are in this together and we all deserve more.
We can live in a world without violence. We can live in a world fueled by love, not by anti-semitism, islamophobia, white supremacy, homophobia and hate. We can live in a world where the safety and wellbeing of everyday people is prioritized over the profits of a few.
The Dream Defenders stand against all forms of hate and for human rights all around the world.
Now more than ever, we need each other. In the face of such violence, we need to talk to each other. We need to build deeper understanding across division. We need to listen to each other, rather than those spewing lies about who our communities are. We need to come together to fight the real enemy - the right and the corporations who are profiting off this violence, like the NRA, the private prison industry and the war companies. We need to stand for one another and speak out courageously against hate.
Today, we are asking our supporters to show up for the families of those we lost over the last few days by donating to support them. All donations to our website between today (Monday, October 29th) and Friday, October 2nd at 11:59PM will go to victims funds for both shootings.
Thank you for continuing to defend dreams with us. Thank you for continuing to spread love with us in the face of fear.
The Dream Defenders