Social media users reacted with scorn and derision to an Axios report claiming that black lawmakers in Florida are likening a “controversial” anti-riot bill to the “Jim Crow era.”
“The so-called ‘anti-riot’ bill that cleared the House along party lines after weeks of opposition from social justice groups and hours of debate faces an uncertain future in the Senate, per the Associated Press,” the Axios report began on Thursday.
The outlet went on to note that the legislation boosts penalties for crimes that are committed during violent protests and creates new felonies for persons accused of organizing or participating in demonstrations that result in violence.
“Black lawmakers hate the bill, calling it a ‘heartless’ return to the Jim Crow era that would stifle dissent,” Axios reported, linking to an Orlando Sentinel article which noted:
Democrats, during nearly four hours of debate on Friday, scalded the proposal, with Black lawmakers especially taking umbrage at what they maintained is a “heartless” approach to civil disobedience at a time when the nation is facing a reckoning over racial biases in policing and other aspects of life.
“Words did not free slaves. Words did not give women the right to vote. Words did not end Jim Crow. And in order for this country to attempt to live up to its full potential, it took protest, civil disobedience, generation after generation,” Orlando Democrat Travaris McCurdy, who is black, said during floor debate.
“This is un-American. It lacks compassion, and it reeks of the foul odor of a new Jim Crow. … It seems that freedom of speech was free, up until black and brown people started talking,” he added.
Republicans have countered that opponents seem to be attempting to justify violence, noting that the legislation doesn’t seek to prohibit peaceful protests.
“We can agree that violence is wrong. We can agree that riots are wrong. We can agree that the government must protect our residents and we can agree that we must protect our law enforcement,” countered the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin, a Miami-Dade County Republican. “And most important, I think we can all agree that violence at a protest delegitimizes the protest.”
Online, social media users suggested that the continued use by Democrats of the term “Jim Crow” to describe the Florida anti-riot legislation and other bills offered by Republicans, such as those aimed at ensuring voter confidence in elections, is an attempt to create another false racism narrative.
“Catching on yet?” American Spectator contributor and podcaster Stephen L. Miller wrote.
Catching on yet? pic.twitter.com/esq98XAGge
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) April 1, 2021
Miller and others also mocked the Axios story for claiming that protests throughout last year were “mostly peaceful.”
Just ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/Gwjs4KPWlo
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) April 1, 2021
— I got your #Unity right here (@jtLOL) April 1, 2021
New talking point just dropped
— Sheen (@Sheen6031) April 1, 2021
Wow. That’s the FIRST TIME anyone has made that comparison.
— Rob Smithson (@RobSmithson6) April 1, 2021
“Jim Crow” pic.twitter.com/DsJ8kUhSri
— Anthony Bish (@OutpostBourbon) April 1, 2021
When everything is Jim Crow, nothing is Jim Crow.
— When The Levee Breaks (@eriContrarian) April 1, 2021
Democrats in Texas used the same phraseology to describe a voter reform bill that advanced in the GOP-controlled Texas Senate on Thursday.
“Senate Bill 7 is the worst voter suppression we’ve seen since Jim Crow — a full-on assault on the voting rights of Texans with disabilities and Black and Latino voters,” Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said. “Republicans have two priorities right now: attacking Texans’ rights and silencing Texans’ voices.”
“Our great nation has an ugly history of voter suppression,” added state Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen. “There’s always been an effort to restrict the voting rights of minorities.”
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