TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Fourteen people are facing misdemeanor trespassing charges and are banned from the Florida Capitol for the next year after they were arrested while protesting in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office on Wednesday.
The people who were arrested were part of a much larger human rights group -- called the Dream Defenders -- that crowded the lobby of the governor’s office for more than six hours.
The demonstrators said they wanted to protest DeSantis’ approach to governing and demanded to meet with him.
At 7 p.m., police gave the group a 20-minute warning to clear the building. Many of them left, but others stayed, locked arms and started singing.
“Once the building closes, unless you have an office in the Capitol, you’re not allowed to be here,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said, citing Department of Management Services policy.
The 14 arrested were charged with misdemeanor trespass and were booked into the Leon County Jail, Plessinger told the Tallahassee Democrat.
The arrests were made by the Florida Capitol Police and Florida Highway Patrol, she said. The protesters have since bonded out of jail.
As this was happening, the House and Senate were meeting, and passed an expansion of the controversial “Parental Rights in Education” law, which the demonstrators call “don’t say gay.”
A number of controversial bills have been passed and signed into law this legislative session, which ends Friday. They include an abortion ban, illegal immigration restrictions and legislation targeting drags shows, the LGBTQ community and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.