Florida isn’t typically a state given to extremities on either side of the political spectrum, hence the fact that we spend every fourth November wondering which party its 29 electoral votes will go to.
That’s why it was somewhat of a surprise that Democrats in the Sunshine State nominated Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee and a kind of Ocasio-Cortez-lite, as its candidate for this year’s gubernatorial race.
Perhaps more surprisingly is just how successful Gillum has been. Fueled in part by some media-created controversies regarding language used by his opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis, Gillum has maintained a slim 1 percentage point lead in the Real Clear Politics polling average.
Granted, that’s a statistical dead heat, but given that this is a candidate who supports “Medicare for all” even though he doesn’t seem to know that much about it, it’s a wonder he can lay claim to any sort of advantage.
That might change now that his endorsement for a “Freedom Pledge” by an anti-Israel group called Dream Defenders is becoming more widely known by voters. Far from what its name might intimate, the “Freedom Pledge” is a piece of race-baiting gobbledygook masquerading as a serious campaign issue.
“This year, as politicians vie for elected office in the Sunshine State, we — Black, immigrant and poor young people from Pensacola to the Keys — have launched our own agenda for the future of Florida. In 2018, we were killed in our classrooms and on street corners,” the pledge reads.
“We were locked inside Florida’s prisons and the keys were thrown away. We live in a state with more billionaires than almost anywhere in the country, yet, our parents and our teachers didn’t have the basic resources they needed to keep us safe.”
“Police were never meant to protect and serve me and you,” the “Freedom Papers” reads. “They started as slave catchers hired by wealthy plantation owners. Businesses started the first organized police force in Boston in 1838 to protect their property and safeguard the transport of goods from the port of Boston to other places. These early business owners kept their profits by incentivizing poor white people to turn against enslaved black people and side with the rich who steal from us all.”
“Police and prisons have no place in ‘justice,'” the document continues. “Police and prisons aren’t just racist but they work to enforce the separations of rich and poor.”
Given that the “Freedom Papers” is only 20 pages long — it’s also heavy on pictures and reads like “Horton Hears an Angela Davis Speech” — it’s pretty unlikely that Gillum (or someone around him) didn’t look over this mephitic gibberish before signing on to the “Freedom Pledge.” To Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, that represents a serious problem.
Bell’s union endorsed DeSantis earlier this month, according to the Tampa Bay Times. In a statement, Bell accused the Democrat of being antagonistic toward police.
“Ron has consistently stood with law enforcement and supported us in our mission to keep communities safe,” the statement said. “His opponent, Andrew Gillum, is hostile toward law enforcement.”
He echoed similar sentiments once the “Freedom Pledge” and “Freedom Papers” debacle surfaced.
“This is a blatant attack on our law enforcement community, an insult to the citizens we work to protect, and dishonors the memory of our fallen officers,” Bell wrote in a statement, according to Breitbart News.
In an appearance on Fox News on Saturday, Bell also noted that Gillum “gained radical ideas” during his time at the Rockwood Leadership Institute, a prominent progressive leadership forum.
“They try and get into lower income communities and spread the lies and the hate and create dissension between law enforcement and the public,” Bell said.
Gillum’s campaign has responded to the allegations by insisting the mayor is strong on policing.
“The mayor has been a strong ally of law enforcement in Tallahassee, investing in additional officers to help reduce crime across the city,” a statement from Gillum campaign spokeswoman Johanna Cervone read.
“As Mayor Gillum has previously said, he will not take money from the private prison industry and instead will invest in community policing, smart justice and strategies that work with communities to reduce crime and create better opportunities for all Floridians.”
Bell, instead, pointed to the high crime numbers Tallahassee has experienced under Gillum’s leadership.
“He wants to say that he works well with law enforcement, but the proof is in the numbers,” Bell said.
We’ve already chronicled that Gillum has serious issues with numbers. He doesn’t seem to understand how “Medicare for all” would be paid for, for example.
His problems go beyond mere numerical values, though. If he thought the “Freedom Pledge” and “Freedom Papers” were acceptable documents, his values are wrong for police officers and wrong for Florida.
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