JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A rally in Jacksonville on Wednesday had this message for Gov. Ron DeSantis: “Black voters matter! Black voters matter! Black voters matter!”
Several groups were represented at the rally in front of the courthouse steps.
They discussed many policy issues and say there’s one, in particular, that’s the most urgent — voting rights.
That was the main message from the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, the Harriet Tubman Freedom Fighters and, of course, the organization Black Voters Matter.
“We are here to declare that if the governor and the state legislature wants to continue to declare that this is a free state, then it should be free for each and every person in this state,” said Jamil Davis with Black Voters Matter.
The rally follows the arrest of civil rights activist Ben Frazier, who attempted to confront DeSantis at a recent public appearance and was ushered out and charged with trespassing.
The charge was later dropped by the state but Frazier said he’s not satisfied yet.
“We need answers,” Frazier said. “We want this governor to have the heart to have the commitment to passionate to sit down and talk with people that he may not agree with, who may have different views from his own.”
Of the many issues that were raised in the rally, the group’s main targets were the recently enacted SB90, which scaled-back access to mail-in voting, bolstered registration rules and imposed new rules for polling places.
They also pointed to the governor’s stated desire to launch a law enforcement entity to police suspected voter fraud.
The groups called all these moves anti-democratic.
“We’re looking for free and fair democracy,” said Rosemary McCoy with the Harriet Tubman Freedom Fighters. “We’re looking for the underserved community and marginalized community to be properly represented. That is power. That’s the citizenship. That’s what gives us. That’s what makes America different from any other country is our freedom.”
This group said that freedom is in jeopardy.
News4JAX reached out to Gov. DeSantis’s office for comment and also contacted the local chapter of the Republican party, but neither immediately returned messages.