'Moral Monday' rally participants challenge Republican leaders' agenda

By Troy Kinsey, Capitol Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, February 05, 2018, 9:04 PM EST

Progressive-minded ministers joined political activists for a Monday rally aimed at convincing the Florida Legislature's Republican leaders to reconsider much of their 2018 agenda.

  • Rally hosted by Poor People's Campaign
  • Activists took aim at 'Sanctuary Cities' legislation
  • Messages also included raising state minimum wage

The 'Moral Monday' rally in the Capitol rotunda was hosted by the Poor People's Campaign, a movement founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose perceived legislative injustices affecting low-income Americans and minorities.

The activists took particular aim at a proposed crackdown on so-called 'sanctuary cities' that passed the Florida House last month. The measure is a top priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O'Lakes), whose political committee has produced a television ad touting it as critical to fighting crime wrought by undocumented immigrants.

"Ain't nobody talking about the poor other than these hate-filled racists that call the homeless 'vagrants,' call poor countries 's-holes,' call immigrants 'terrorists' in an attempt to change the narrative," said Rev. Ron Rawls.

The 'Moral Monday' messages - which also included calls to raise Florida's minimum wage and reverse a House proposal to raid the state's affordable housing trust fund in order to balance the budget - largely fell on deaf ears, with rank-and-file Republicans broadly supportive of their leadership's agenda.

"We want to make sure that people need to know, if they're going to come to Florida, that they need to have legal status," Rep. Larry Metz (R-Yalaha) said on the House floor during the 'sanctuary cities' debate. "We don't want to see more people coming into the country illegally."

But, Rawls told the crowd at Monday's rally, millions of low-income Floridians are underrepresented in Tallahassee and deserve to have their voices heard.

"When God calls our name and wants to know who in Florida was willing to stand in the gap for the poor, we say 'Here!'"