See, Gov. Scott, the thing is you consider yourself somewhat between a rock and a hard place. So it’s difficult for you to think solely about justice.
Because if you choose to be righteous about justice, then you’d actually be professing democracy. But you can’t do that unless it’s for a right-wing neo-conservative cause, lest you betray your political ideology and base. I mean the likes of Rush Limbaugh would tear at your throat.
Yeah, it’s hard for you, my man, but c’mon, Governor, do the right thing and appoint a special prosecutor to reopen the 2001 case of Oral Brown, the 37- year-old black businessman from Lauderdale Lakes who died after being beaten, placed in a choke-hold and hog-tied by emergency workers.
Mr. Brown’s SUV crashed upside down when he suffered a seizure, trapping him inside. Emergency workers who freed him either did not notice or care that the man was in the throes of a seizure and just pounced on him as though they were subduing a dangerous wild animal. All the pieces of this terrible case have been plainly and relentlessly made public through the tenacious investigative reporting of Elgin Jones of South Florida Times.
And, Governor, you can markedly improve your very low approval rating by jettisoning those fascistic-thinking advisors who had you holding closed-door meetings while visiting schools in Pinellas and Duvall counties last week. Fortunately, by week’s end, you corrected that un-democratic disaster after local school boards publicly complained.
(Now, when the governor meets at schools throughout the state with parents, students and teachers, the public, including the press, school leaders and elected officials, are free to attend. This is the process I call the politics of access.)
Gov. Scott, irrespective of your pronouncements touting an up-tick in Florida’s economy due to tourism and reduced debt, do the right thing and take trips to some of the stratified, mostly minority neighborhoods throughout your state. Please, it’s a very important, real-life education. Looking at cold statistics and listening to ideological rhetoric pale in comparison to what your eyes will see over a broad landscape and your mind comprehend.
Of the 50 United States of America, Florida ranks last in providing benefits to the jobless. Reportedly, you brag that unemployment is “down 2.3 percent in the last 20 months” and unemployment aid “has dropped about 40 percent.”
In fact, significant numbers of unemployed Florida residents give up looking for work. According to PolitiFact Florida, “Florida is ranked last in the nation when it comes to long-term unemployment, so economists say the shrinking labor force is a natural result.”
Added to which, more than 250,000 jobless people have maxed out their unemployment benefits while “tens of thousands of other people seeking jobless aid have been rejected after Scott and the Legislature made it more difficult to apply.”
As an early 1960s college student and civil rights worker turned journalist in Atlanta, I’m not even going to get into your stuff about Florida voter suppression, Governor. Why? Because a suppressed people must always be aware that the struggle continues until they have achieved the fruits of liberation. While the political act of liberating is in itself a protracted struggle, attaining the fruits is another, deeply concentrated, hard-working, sacrificing, and yet satisfying, endeavor.
Whatever impediments blocking a goal of the struggle, a way has to be created to go through, around, over or under that blockage. The price of participation has to be paid on the road to success. So, black and poor people will gain strength by paying the price to vote come Nov. 6, Election Day.
On behalf of conscious black people everywhere, let me take this opportunity to thank you, Gov. Scott, and the Florida Legislature and white nationalists throughout these United States of America, for reawakening the spirit of liberation among the black and poor masses, not only here in America but throughout the world.
Now that we all believe in true democracy, that is what we want.
Al Calloway is a longtime journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He may be reached at: Al_Calloway@verizon.net