Florida State Capitol was disturbed by a dozen protestors in opposition to the “Heartbeat Protection Act”. The new law would prohibit most abortions after six weeks of gestation. The protestors violated the trespass warning from law enforcement and were all arrested, including Democratic Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book and former Florida gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried. They were seen sitting in a circle along with other protestors and singing “Lean on Me” before their arrest. These arrests have sparked rage amongst Democratic officials across the country.
‘Lean On Me’: Video Shows Cops Arresting Singing Pro-Abortion Protesters, Including Top State Democrats https://t.co/nRV0zzIobs
— US Burning (@UsBurning) April 4, 2023
Protest organizers had been discussing with city officials for over a week to ensure the rally would take place after the bill’s passage. However, the Tallahassee Police Department informed the protestors that they couldn’t accommodate overnight camping and had to utilize the property only during operating hours. The warning was issued multiple times by law enforcement officers, but a handful of protestors, including Democratic leaders, refused to leave and faced the consequences accordingly.
Police just handcuffed & arrested protesters including @NikkiFried & @LeaderBookFL pic.twitter.com/NCdqHJxmcx
— Gary Fineout (@fineout) April 4, 2023
Democratic Florida Rep. Maxwell Frost and Tallahassee City Commissioner Jacqueline “Jack” Porter are amongst the officials voicing their disapproval over the arrests. With their tweets being released, Porter urged authorities not to arrest protestors, arguing that it’s against their constitutional rights to assemble and protest peacefully. Frost released a statement claiming that the law enforcement and Mayor John Dailey must release the protestors.
The Tallahassee Police Department has responded to the criticism stating that they do encourage citizens’ peaceful assembly as long as it complies with the law. The police department always upholds citizens’ rights and promotes peaceful discourse without disrupting daily routines.
While the arrest of the leaders may have sparked rage amongst Democratic officials, there are still other ways to protest and fight against the Heartbeat Protection Act without illegal activity. They can campaign locally or nationally, attend rallies, and can wait until the next election to express their opinions in a more acceptable way.