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HB 1 weighs in on the wrong sides of history

By Staff | Apr 7, 2021

To the editor:

Heather Heyer was run down and killed in Charlottesville while following police orders to disperse from the park where she was peacefully protesting the reification of racism at a city park statue to a confederate. Convicted of the homicide was a fascist from out of state who had insisted on tinted windows when he rented the car he used as a fatal weapon. The court had little patience for the out-of-state nazis specious claim of self defense.

Street demonstrations opposing racial injustice are often referenced today as “unrest.” As though the problem is that we hear the call upon our shared humanity for equality and justice as an affront to our complacency or an annoyance.The delay in the ball game while the players take a knee is intended to be an irksome reminder that some of us can pop down the street to the corner store without risking a bullet. The minor delay of play while we experience a pinprick of shame for collaborating in systemic racism is not the problem. The problem is the continuation of injustice. The solution is not to demonize the young people who call on us to be better than we are. It certainly is no solution to promote violence as HB-1 would do.

Gov. DeSantis, rushing to the wrong side of history, has come up with a legislative solution for a problem he can’t demonstrate existing. His HB-1 would have presumptively encouraged Heyer’s murder, and made a presumptive and unjustified shift of guilt to the victim! Written after the death of Heyer the bill encourages a Kristallnacht vigilantism — it’s OK to kill First Amendment protestors as long as the counter protestors have created a riot-like situation. This was exactly the de facto policy in Germany, where thousands of Germans were killed by brown shirt thugs to silence peaking political dissent from marginalized groups.

The social justice movements in Florida expect the same white racist groups that erected tacky statues praising white supremacy in euphemist language extolling “the cause” and white vigilante/terrorists to taunt and even attack them when they attempt to peacefully parade or march or demonstrate for justice or human rights. DeSantis’ HB-1 now proposes Florida encourage vigilante homicide as a remedy for traffic congestion as First Amendment crowds gather or disburse. DeSantis’ wink/nudge to fascists, Bill HB-1 would encourage terrorists like the murderer of Heyer crossing state lines to attack demonstrations with the promise of state-sanctioned impunity. The Governor seeks amnesty for vehicular assaults and homicide, such as the Neo nazi who ran down Heather Heyer in 2017. Nothing of historic pride has come of wink-wink/nudging Americans to attack each other. This is the hold my beer upmanship to the now discredited “stand your ground” policy.

Floridians should not wait to be a Supreme Court punchline to stop this policy. Your representatives should be encouraged to vote against this legal dispensation for hate crime style mayhem. You can email them via leedelgation.com.

Ellen Starbird

Cape Coral