Shortly after Governor Rick Scott finished his state of the state address to lawmakers in Tallahassee Tuesday, demonstrations were held in cities across Florida, including one in downtown Jacksonville’s Hemming Park.
Like they have every year since the first election of Governor Rick Scott, members of progressive activist groups, including Florida New Majority and the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition, rallied in opposition to Republican state government priorities. Everything from repealing the Affordable Care Act to approving fracking was admonished as activists attempted to “Awake the State.”
“Awake the State started several years ago on Facebook. It started out as a groundswell of people trying to beat back some of the oppressive laws and legislation coming out Tallahassee,” said Awake the State Jacksonville’s organizer Corey Wilborn.
Wilborn said the events are primarily aimed at raising awareness and increasing participation in the electoral process. Meanwhile, conservatives have retained control, with the GOP legislative majority and Governor Scott easily winning re-election.
Still, Wilborn is hopeful. He said voters angry with the results of last year’s presidential election could bolster this “grassroots movement of everyday Floridians.”
“I’m hoping that rallies like this, and people getting together and like minds collaborating, electing the next set of elected officials … will be positive,” he said.
Many Awake the State participants will also be at Hemming Park on Wednesday for a protest commemorating International Women’s Day.