Bring It Home: August 2019

Remember, the gun doesn’t pull the trigger” – President Donald Trump

Well that didn’t take long. Less than 3 weeks after President Trump signaled his support for “very meaningful background checks” in the wake of two horrific mass shootings, he’s already started to walk things back.

It’s hard to stay outraged, and yet impossible not to be. But we’ve been here before. And before that. And, well you know. It’s the song that never ends. 

The vast majority of Americans, including Republicans want changes. In a recently released Fox News poll 90 percent of voters surveyed favor universal background checks. 81 percent support “red flag” laws to remove guns from people identified as dangerous to themselves or others. What’s more, 67 percent, nearly two thirds of voters surveyed favor banning assault style rifles and other semi-automatic weapons.

Read the entire poll here: Fox News poll results

With numbers like that, it’s time to put the pressure on our elected officials. Call your senators today and let them hear your frustration! Also, Moms Demand groups are expanding all over the country. There were demonstrations last weekend in every state in the country. You don’t have to be a mom to join. Let’s continue to raise our voices and awareness around this national crisis of gun violence. 

https://momsdemandaction.org/act/

“I need my dad. He’s not a criminal.”

Just days after Mexicans were targeted in the El Paso massacre, nearly 700 migrant workers were rounded up by ICE agents in Mississippi. Worse still, it was the first day of school. Who could forget the sobs coming from the 11 year-old girl begging for her father’s release.

Top members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are demanding an investigation. The lawmakers sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security blasting the raids and looking for answers. They said the timing of the raids left the community in chaos and put children at risk by not notifying the school district. 

Led by Chairman Joaquin Castro, the group is demanding details of how much the raids cost and the source of funding for them.

“Let’s be clear: ICE raids of this scale are not conducted for the purpose of immigration enforcement, they’re to strike fear in our communities in a time when Latinos are already living in terror. These workplace raids decimate communities and target law-abiding immigrants who are just trying to earn an honest living, Castro said.

There is also the matter of the businesses who employed those workers. To date no charges have been filed against them.

“A major step in the wrong direction.”

It brought back the bald eagle and the grizzly bear, but now the Trump administration is making sweeping changes to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

At a time when climate change has already put millions of species on a path to extinction environmental groups say this will put even more animal and plant species in danger. In Florida, the Key Deer is one of the species experts say will be at risk with the new rules.

The changes have been pushed by the fossil fuel industry for years. Additionally, climate change will not be allowed to be used as criteria for protection. The Sierra Club is among groups who promise to sue to stop the new rules.

“Undermining this popular and successful law is a major step in the wrong direction as we face the increasing challenges of climate change and its effects on wildlife. The Endangered Species Act works; our communities– both natural and human– have reaped the benefits. This safety net must be preserved.” — Lena Moffitt, Our Wild America Campaign Senior Director, Sierra Club

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented extinction crisis, yet the Trump Administration is steamrolling our most effective wildlife protection law. This Administration seems set on damaging fragile ecosystems by prioritizing industry interests over science. We intend to fight these regulatory rollbacks so that we can preserve the natural world for generations to come.” — Rebecca Riley, Legal Director of the Nature Program, Natural Resources Defense Council

What can be done? On so many of these issues, it’s critically important to call your representatives and let them know how you feel. Ultimately we have to put people in office who care about the values the majority of Floridians hold dear.

Please consider joining our efforts at Bring It Home Florida to register and engage a million new voters before the 2020 election.

Let us hear from you!

Upcoming Events

The Longest Table – Educational Session for Lawmakers, Attorneys, and Law Students (Orlando, FL)

Partners: Latino Justice, VoteRiders

On September 25, 2019 

Orlando, FL

El Summit (Orlando, FL)

Partners: For Our Future, VoteRiders, Alianza For Progress, Puerto Rico Diaspora, Latino Justice, Hispanic Federation, La Mesa Boricua, PoderLatinx, Mission Boricua, and Faith In Florida.

On October 19, 2019 from 9 AM to 5 PM 

Location: The Hispanic Federation, 1650 Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL

Bring It Home: July 2019

Witnessing Homestead 

From Bring It Home Florida Newsletter Editor: Donna Deegan 

The last time I visited Homestead, Florida was in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The scene was pure devastation. Power lines down, electricity out. Roads littered with the debris of shattered homes and trees making it difficult to get ice, water, food and other supplies to the victims. It was a hellscape. I remember thinking this didn’t look like civilization. It didn’t look like America.

Last week, I had the very same feeling as I visited Homestead again, at what is now a for profit detention center for migrant children. Most of these children come across the border seeking asylum with either a parent or family member only to be separated and put into cages. They make the long journey to America to flee extreme violence. They risk their lives in hopes that they won’t be kidnapped and forced to join a gang or be sexually abused. They come here believing they will be given a lifeline, a chance.

Instead they are subjected to emotional abuse and physical neglect, pried from the arms of the only people they know. 

These children are given two chances per week to reach their loved ones. If they don’t get through, they don’t speak. They describe a cold environment where they are not allowed to touch or hug. They have only moments to shower and eat. They must ask permission to use the bathroom and in all of these cases must be watched by an adult. Some are profoundly depressed. 

The day I visited there were dozens of people gathered at the gates to the facility. We were not allowed in but we could stand on ladders so the children could see us. People waved signs and hearts and shouted words of encouragement.

“Los veremos, los queremos.” We see you, we love you. 

Alicia Thomas came from across the state and stood on a ladder for hours. She told me it’s time to give these children their dignity back.

Ken Barns from New Hampshire has been coming here on and off for weeks to show the children that they have support on the outside.

We could see some of the children waving back as they were marched across the yard, single file in bright orange hats. Almost 3000 are being held here with no idea when or if they will see their families again. It was heart-wrenching to witness but I needed to see it. Another kind of hellscape in a place that sure doesn’t look like America. But unlike a natural disaster, this doesn’t have to happen.

Bring It Home Florida is committed to using our voices to change these policies. Executive Director Millie Rafael says demonstrations like the one at Homestead are just the start.

“While it’s important for us to continue to show up and voice our outrage at this administration’s abusive policy of separating families at the border and keeping children imprisoned in inhumane conditions, it’s even more important to assert these concerns to our elected officials at all levels. We also must remember that sometimes the only way we can be heard is at the ballot box, and that all the protests and rallies will accomplish nothing if we do not show up to vote and encourage everyone in our community to do the same.”

We have a plan to register, engage, educate and motivate over a half-million Floridians by:

  • More efficiently identifying eligible and unengaged voters using cutting edge data analytics and in-depth precinct analysis
  • Targeting counties that have a significant gap in registered voters of color compared to population of voting-eligible people of color
  • Targeting rural communities often overlooked by conventional outreach campaigns due to population density or demographics
  • Providing education on the processes of voting and civic engagement
  • Increasing low-propensity voter turnout and engagement through layered outreach activities reaching wide cross-sections of voters

With your help, we’ll get it done. Click here to learn more about voter registration training or how you can get involved.

Another Opportunity 

If you’d like to raise your voice to end these inhumane camps, there will be demonstrations around the country on Friday July 12th.  Visit www.lightsforliberty for information about events happening in your area.

A Poll Tax Pure and Simple

Floridians made their voices heard. Nearly 65 percent approved Amendment 4, creating a constitutional guarantee that former felons who have served their time can return to the voter rolls. 

But last week Governor Ron DeSantis silenced those voices. With the stroke of a pen he rolled back Amendment 4 and created a modern-day poll tax for returning citizens. 

Mayor Andrew Gillum, who narrowly lost to DeSantis in the Florida Governor’s race, took to twitter to encourage voters to fight back.

Mayor Gillum said research from The Brennan Center shows 44% of those newly registering were black even though the overall share of black voters in Florida is 13%. He said the new law is aimed at restricting those black voters. A poll tax, pure and simple.

“While it sickens me to make this ask, we have work to do,” he said.” I’ll be personally supporting Desmond Meade and his organization’s effort to help pay fines and fees of returning citizens, and I hope you will too.”

Click here to learn more about the initiative We Got The Vote.

The ACLU has also filed suit to challenge DeSantis’ actions. To learn more click here.

Something New!

The energy around progressive causes has never been higher, and we want to hear what makes you passionate about them. So, we’re launching something new. Something to help all of us to connect and motivate us to do more. It’s called #PeopleWhoBringItHome

We are people-driven and we want to hear from you! 

Here’s what we need from you: 

  1. Record a 15 to 45-second video answering the question: How do I bring it home? — aka what are the issues that matter to you and why, and what are you doing to make an impact? 
  2. Post on any social media platform and tag us: @BringItHomeFL
  3. Be sure to use #PeopleWhoBringItHome hashtag
  4. Email us to let us know that you’ve participated: [email protected]
  5. Tag 3 of your friends and challenge them to do the same. 
  6. Most importantly, have fun! 

Please share yours on social media with the hashtag #PeopleWhoBringItHome and we’ll share it too! 

The Longest Table

In the past month Bring It Home Florida has continued to host The Longest Table in communities around the state. Our goal is to bring more voices into the conversation about the issues important to our communities.

Longest Table events were held in Jacksonville, Kissimmee, and Sunrise. Topics of conversation included voter participation, education, climate change, healthcare, gerrymandering and the census. If you’d like to host The Longest Table in your community, contact us here.

Our next The Longest Table event is in St. Petersburg on Saturday, July 27. Find all the details here!


Volunteer Spotlight 

Name:  Eli Logan

County:  Brevard 

What brought you to grassroots organizing? 

Waking up on November 9, 2016 with a feeling of impending doom. I knew I had to do something, so I joined my local DEC. Then I met Andrew Gillum and became a super volunteer and helped organize the state’s volunteers for his campaign. Now I sit on the board of Bring It Home Florida and I’m honored to continue engaging and registering voters across the state.

What do you do when you aren’t working on this?

 I’m a mom and a nurse practitioner. 

Who or what inspires you to keep going? 

My daughters. I have three girls and I want this world to be better for them and for future generations. 

Tell us one thing people don’t know about you and one thing everybody knows about you

This may fall into either category, but I started the Andrew Gillum for Governor Facebook group after the first time I met him. It went from about 30 friends that I shoved in there to over 25,000 folks after the primary. We continue to use it to share pertinent information to followers throughout the state. 

STATEMENT: Bring It Home Florida Launches New Voter Registration and Re-engagement Push

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Organizers from Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign proudly announced the launch of Bring It Home Florida, a new progressive non-profit organization dedicated to registering and re-engaging voters, advocating for change across the Sunshine State, and bringing communities together.

Bring It Home Florida will focus on Florida’s most pressing issues, including gun safety, expanding health care to every Floridian, protecting our environment, ensuring equality for our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, and making Florida a more fair state for everyone.

“I’m exceedingly proud of the everyday people who are building on our movement and momentum from the last two years. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and the only way we will build a progressive future for Florida is by working on the ground in our communities,” said Andrew Gillum.

“Our movement is ready to build on the incredible grassroots excitement and enthusiasm that Mayor Gillum led in 2018. We’re ready to take Florida back by ensuring that the voices of everyday Floridians are heard at every level of our government,” Millie Raphael, co-founder of Bring it Home Florida said.

Learn more about Bring It Home at bringithomefl.org.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
[email protected], 305-482-3863

Andrew Gillum set to launch voter drive

This article was originally published on Florida Politics. Click here to read it.

Former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum‘s next act appears to be a voter registration drive aimed at putting together a Democratic voter base to help defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee, has, for weeks, been advancing a “major announcement” set for Wednesday at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. The announcement is coming at an RSVP event, with the doors opening at 5 p.m.

As first reported Wednesday by Politico and confirmed by Florida Politics, Gillum intends to lay out the framework for a voter registration program under the flag of a newly-formed “Bring it Home Florida,” using his gubernatorial campaign’s slogan. As noted by Politico, Gillum still has almost $4 million left unspent from his campaign’s unofficial political committee, Forward Florida.

In January a not-for-profit organization, Bring it Home Florida Inc., was registered with the Florida Secretary of State.

Gillum has been both teasing and brushing aside speculation that he might launch a candidacy for president.  He’s also been followed by ethics complaints that had haunted him during the campaign andremained long after he lost the election to Republican now-Gov. Ron DeSantis.


Gillum launches Bring It Home Florida

Nonprofit organization to fix the Democratic party’s biggest issue

This article was originally published on The Miami Times Online. Click here to read it.

After campaigning across the state of Florida to be the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee and candidate, Andrew Gillum made assessments about the political landscape: The state of the Democratic Party is disorganized.

“We are the Democratic Party, and I will say that it is time to organize,” Gillum said in a recent interview. “The strength of the party was organizing authentically … We need to get back to our roots, get back to the tradition.”

Gillum also learned that many people weren’t sure why they needed to get involved in the electoral process. He also met many advocates, people who loved the state and shared his vision.

By marrying these two spectrums, Gillum created Bring it Home Florida, a charitable organization, whose goal to register and engage 1 million new voters in Florida by the 2020 primary. He will reveal Bring It Home Florida to the nation late Wednesday afternoon at Florida Memorial University.

The organization, incorporated in January, will seek to re-engage about 2 million Florida voters who are eligible to vote but did not in the last presidential and gubernatorial elections.

“That’s about six years by 2020 that they would have been out of the voting process,” Gillum noted. “We want to bring them back.”

The not-for-profit’s board is made of 10 influential women and one man, Phillip Jerez, Gillum’s former campaign director. Other board members include Boca Raton’s Dana Aberman, chairperson of Gift of Life’s Steps For Life 5K of South Florida; Robbin Bray, Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) at-large delegate for Bernie Sanders; breast cancer advocate and niece of former Jacksonville mayor Tommy Hazouri Donna Deegan; South Florida real estate agent Regina Ferdinand; and Apryl Freeman, an educator and alumni of Florida A&M University, Gillum’s alma mater.

The entire nation has been speculating on what Gillum is going to announce on Wednesday at FMU. News outlets have been intimating that Gillum is going to make a run for president or some other significant office in the 2020 General Election. 

By forming an organization focused on voter registration, Gillum is trying to improve his odds of winning if and when he runs for office again and improve the chances of flipping Florida to a blue state.

“Florida doesn’t need to be the 1 percent state,” said Gillum, referring to the tight margins by which candidates win or lose. Gillum lost his bid for the Florida governorship by 32,000 votes.

In the 2020 presidential race, winning Florida’s 29 electoral votes will be crucial to whomever wants to occupy the White House.

Gillum will join forces with several voter registration not-for-profits that need financial support to do their work year-round, and not just during election season. Another paradigm shift that Gillum hopes will happen is that those people who are used to giving to political candidates will also give to the work of voter registration. 

Gillum’s announcement comes on the same day that the Florida Democratic Party announced that it plans to make a $2 million investment in voter registration ahead of the 2020 elections. The investment will go toward new technology, advanced data models and hiring more full-time organizers. The party is aiming to register 200,000 voters before the 2020 primary.

The program is a part of the joint effort by Democrats … to create the electorate we need to win in Florida, Juan Peñalosa, the Florida Democratic Party’s executive director, said via email.

“As one of the more exciting leaders of our Party in Florida, we’re excited for Andrew Gillum to direct his energies toward registering voters and we are working closely with Mayor Gillum to ensure we meet aggressive goals to bring more Floridians into the democratic process,” Peñalosa said.

Newly elect president of the South Dade Democratic Black Caucus, Ron Brown chapter Reverend Kevin Chamblis said the party had informed the caucuses that voter registration was a priority.

“We were aware that this was a priority for the party and that they would invest significant amounts of money toward implementing a Voter Registration Plan. In addition, we look forward to working with the Party to implement that plan, specifically in committees of color,” Chamblis said.

The Black community has long complained that the party does not give it the tools it needs to run grass-roots campaigns such as voter registration drives. 

 Chamblis said voter registration will be a “Herculean task,” because of the  passage of Amendment 4, which restores voting rights to felons who have served their terms and who were not convicted of a sex crime or murder.

“We applaud every effort that the Democratic Party will take to register voters, especially in communities of color,” he said.

CORRECTION: Dana Aberman is the chairperson of Gift of Life’s Steps For Life 5K of South Florida. She is not a co-founder of the organization as previously stated in this article.

Andrew Gillum Launches Massive Voter Registration Campaign

The former gubernatorial candidate said he plans to register at least 1 million Florida voters before the 2020 presidential election.

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post. Click here to read it.

Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum said Wednesday he will not run for president and is instead launching a huge voter mobilization campaign to help Democrats secure his home state in the 2020 race.

The former mayor of Tallahassee said he plans to register at least a million Florida voters before the 2020 election. Gillum’s supporters registered the voter outreach organization Bring it Home Florida with the state last week, according to Politico. The nonprofit is named after the Democrat’s signature campaign phrase.

“It requires that we get out there, and that we organize, and that we activate and that we produce a voter who is going to show up not just on Election Day, but the day after, they’re gonna be there to hold you accountable,” Gillum said Wednesday night at historically black Florida Memorial University.

Democrats say they have identified millions of Florida residents who are not registered to vote despite being eligible. But Gillum is optimistic about voter engagement, citing Florida’s historic move in November’s election to get rid of a Jim Crow-era policy and restore voting rights to people with felony records.

“Because we turned out and we voted like our lives depended on it, 1.4 million people now have the ability to register to vote here in the state of Florida,” Gillum said. “That is a big deal.”

The voting rights measure went into effect in January, but Florida lawmakers said they need to clarify some ambiguities and want to block people with court debts from voting.

The Florida Democratic Party is also pledging to spend $2 million in the next year to register 200,000 voters ahead of the 2020 primary. Gillum also has nearly $4 million available with his political committee Forward Florida, which is also involved in his voter registration campaign.

“This isn’t the sexy work. I’m sure it’s probably more fun for some of those out there running for president,” Gillum said Wednesday night. “This is the hard work of democracy.”

Gillum was seen as a possible 2020 contender after he lost the bid for Florida governor by less than half a percentage point to Ron DeSantis in November. He spoke to The New Times earlier Wednesday about his decision to organize rather than run for president, unlike 2020 candidate Beto O’Rourke, the Texas Democrat who lost his Senate race in November.

“There’s no doubt that O’Rourke enjoys a set of privileges in his decision-making that other candidates don’t. Can you imagine it for any of the women that are in the race for president or considering a run?” Gillum told the Times. “I think over the course of this race, we will … discover what Beto O’Rourke’s views are. And I think he’ll be measured on that.”

Gillum joins Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the November gubernatorial election in Georgia, in fighting for voting rights. Abrams, whose loss to former Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp coincided with accusations of voter suppression, said she has since started Fair Fight Georgia to promote fair elections and voter participation. Abrams previously founded the New Georgia Project, which has registered over 300,000 black people to vote in the state. She has not announced whether she will run for president.

President Donald Trump narrowly won Florida in 2016, the biggest swing state in the country with 29 Electoral College votes. Trump’s 2020 campaign will have a large presence in Florida, but Gillum said that whoever becomes the Democratic nominee will have a huge chance at winning the presidency if they can turn Florida blue.

“The road to the White House runs through Florida,” he said Wednesday. “We can deny Donald Trump a second term right here in the state of Florida.”

Andrew Gillum’s Next Campaign: Registering Voters in Florida

This article was originally published in New York Magazine. Click here to read it.

Andrew Gillum might be the governor of Florida right now if the state had allowed people with felony convictions to vote. It’s fitting, then, that his first postelection project will be to register new voters across the state. Politicoreported on Wednesday that Gillum has launched a new organization, Bring It Home Florida, to register new voters; at the same time, the state Democratic Party has announced that it will invest $2 million to register 200,000 voters. As Politico notes, registered Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in Florida, but there are 3.6 million voters with no party registration at all. If the party could bring even a fraction of those voters into the fold, they’d be a formidable force at the polls. The passage of Amendment 4, which extended voting rights to most people with felony convictions, in November should also significantly expand the available pool of voters.

Gillum’s project highlights a major midterm theme. Promising black Democrats — like Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Gillum himself — narrowly lost elections to white Republican candidates against a backdrop of voter suppression. The product of an old and endlessly adaptive white-supremacist impulse, voter suppression did not end with Election Night. Gillum and his party will have to work against state Republicans, who steadfastly seek new ways to keep likely Democrats away from the ballot box ahead of a pivotal presidential election. Republican intransigence doesn’t just create obstacles for Gillum and other Democrats; it also lends fierce urgency to their work.

Right now, Florida Republicans appear to be focusing their efforts on scaling back Amendment 4. Though the measure is self-implementing, and thus didn’t require any specific action from state government, newly elected Governor Ron DeSantis has repeatedly insisted that the measure created a significant logistical problem for the state. After first threatening to delay enfranchisement, allegedly so they could determine how to implement the amendment, House Republicans advanced a bill on March 19 that would require this mostly black population to pay all court fees associated with their case before they can vote, even if a judge didn’t sentence them to do so. According to the Miami Herald, the bill “goes beyond” what Amendment 4 actually stipulated, and critics have diagnosed it as resembling the poll taxes that once barred black voters from exercising the franchise.

People with felony convictions are disproportionately likely to be low-income, the direct result of employment discrimination and restrictions on the sorts of welfare that they’re eligible to receive. There probably aren’t many who could afford to pay court fees. This new Republican bill wouldn’t just limit the ability to vote to people who could afford to purchase it from the state; it would handily keep the vote away from many, if not most, of Amendment 4’s intended beneficiaries.

It is a familiar gesture — the first American gesture, as far as the franchise goes — to restrict the vote to white men of means. Though Gillum’s project doesn’t focus specifically on Amendment 4, it’s a necessary, even subversive effort to expand the vote in the face of a centuries-old campaign to lock it away.