Last Thursday, Anne Braden Program alum and organizer with SURJ Florida, Rachel Bass was one of 14 people arrested at the Florida Capitol at an action organized by Dream Defenders in the face of a horrible legislative session that saw bills attacking immigrants, queer people, trans people, Black people, education, renters’ rights and more. See Dream Defenders’ Press Release about the action here and Democracy Now! coverage here. Rachel wrote about her experience:
On Tuesday May 2nd, I made the 6 hour long drive to Tallahassee to show up in solidarity with the Dream Defenders and other BIPOC led Florida organizations for a rally/teach-in at the capital.
It was so powerful to have people come together from all different walks of life and support each other in true solidarity. Everyone cared about each other and looked out for each other in the middle of the most hateful legislative session, in a place that is so cruel, cold, and oppressive. We filled the whole place up with love and care for each other and a determination to fight back.
It was all done under the incredible leadership of Black women. The co-directors of Dream Defenders were amazing, coordinating people from all over the state. Folks came all the way from Miami, St. Pete, Orlando…some traveling 8-10 hours by bus. It was such a beautiful and diverse representation of Florida and brought into focus the faces of those being harmed the most by these hateful policies.
I knew going up that I was also going to participate in an escalated action and potentially risk arrest. After the rally and the people’s tour of the capital, we occupied Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office and asked to meet with him. DeSantis refused to meet with us and instead had 14 of us arrested.
There were no less than 80 police officers, state police, Leon county police, even Florida fish and wildlife (FWC) officers. It was a massive show of force and I have no doubt it was done in an attempt to scare us and discourage anyone else who may have been watching from taking similar action.
I kept waiting to feel afraid but I truly never did. I didn’t know if the group would be separated, how long we would be held, or even exactly what we’d be charged with, but it didn’t matter. When it was my turn I was ready, they asked me one more time to leave the premises and I said no, then they arrested me. We all kept singing as they zip-tied our wrists one by one and led us to some makeshift processing room in the capital before loading us on the prison bus to take us to the jail.
I had been feeling so helpless because of everything that was happening, I couldn’t keep up with the hateful shit that was passing, I couldn’t keep reading about it. But I know that continuing to show up and fight back and love each other is worth it, it’s the only way we have any chance of fighting back against fascism. Florida is my home and I’m not leaving as long as there are others fighting alongside me.
Learn More About What’s Happening in Florida: