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Black Lives Matter Group Slams Osceola County Sheriff Lopez in Target Shooting

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Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk, Inc. co-founder and vice president Pastor Carl Soto calls for Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez's resignation during a press conference in Kissimmee Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Image: WESH 2 News (screen capture).

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (FNN) – Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk, Inc. called for the resignation of Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez during a press conference in Kissimmee Tuesday after the deputy-involved shooting at Target in late April resulting in a death.

Pastor Carl Soto, BLMRP co-founder and vice president, slammed Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez in light of the incident that killed 20-year-old Jayden Baez and injured 18-year-old Michael Gomez and 19-year-old Joseph Lowe.

Video released from the Osceola County sheriff’s office shows the victim’s car going forward when deputies surrounded it. Four people inside the car, including 20-year-old Jayden Baez, were accused of shoplifting. Baez died when deputies fired gunshots.

Pastor Soto noted that the surviving victims of the shooting claim they had their hands up before the shots fired. He clarified that according to the victims, all of the law enforcement vehicles were not only unmarked, but didn’t sound any sirens or flashed any police lights when they approached. He further said that, according to the video, an unmarked deputy vehicle, a silver Ford F-150, struck the vehicle the victims were in first before their vehicle made any moves.

Soto slammed the fact that the deputies involved weren’t wearing body cameras and Sheriff Lopez for clearing his deputies of any wrongdoing.

“We have severe concerns about the credibility of Sheriff Marcos Lopez and demand for him to resign,” Soto pushed during the press conference, demanding criminal charges be filed against “each and every deputy” that discharged their firearms during the incident. He further demanded an independent investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice since, according to him, the FDLE “can’t be transparent” in shootings that involve law enforcement officers. He called on State Attorney Monique Worrell to “do her job” and press charges against the deputies involved immediately.

“We are talking about three teens that allegedly took Pokemon cards…and a box of pizza. We’re not condoning that, but that amounts to a misdemeanor. We now have a 20-year-old that’s dead, we have a 19-year-old that’s in the hospital, and an 18-year-old that nearly got his hand blown off.”

Soto, who said he is the nephew of a lieutenant and the brother of a sergeant, emphasized that the deputies involved are “peace officers” first and should have pursued peaceful means of apprehending the victims first, but instead “chose violence.”

He acknowledged that attorney Mark Nejame is pursuing litigation and that the families of the victims are “appalled” and “angry.”

“This is murder,” he said. “And we’re calling for federal charges.”

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell Announces Leadership Team

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) today announced the appointment of the following Democratic Representatives to serve on the House Democratic Caucus leadership team for the 2022-24 legislative term:

  • Leader Pro Tempore: Representative Dotie Joseph (D-Miami);
  • Policy Chair: Representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton);
  • Floor Leader: Representative Michael “Mike” Gottlieb (D-Davie); and
  • Whip: Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland).

“The House Democratic Caucus is made up of some of the strongest, most fierce champions of the people in the entire state,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “It is an honor and great pleasure to work with these individuals in this new capacity, and all of them are prepared to lead the Caucus in the face of the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

As Leader Pro Tempore, Representative Joseph will assist the Democratic Leader in carrying out designated responsibilities and perform such Leadership responsibilities as are assigned, including stepping in for the Leader as needed.

“I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Representative Joseph for over 20 years. From the time we were at Georgetown Law to now, she has always been a consistent champion for justice. The issues she advocates for on behalf of all Floridians makes Representative Joseph an invaluable asset in defending Floridians against extremist Republican policies,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “I look forward to Representative Joseph’s leadership as a key member of my team over the next two years.”

In her role as the Caucus Policy Chair, Representative Skidmore will be responsible for ensuring the Caucus continues to champion legislation that positively impacts all Floridians, and will lead discussions about bills before the House at Caucus meetings.

“As the previous Policy Chair for the Caucus, I know what is needed to do this job. Appointing Representative Skidmore as Policy Chair was an easy choice,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “She stood out as a prime member in understanding policy during the last legislative term. Representative Skidmore also brings with her a wealth of experience as both a former House and Senate staffer and House member. Applying her unique skillset to this new role will benefit the Caucus and all Floridians.”

In his role as Floor Leader, Representative Gottlieb will be responsible in interpreting the House Rules, ensuring the Caucus adheres to the agreed upon rules, and working with his Republican counterpart in advocating for fair amounts of time be allotted to the Caucus in debating different pieces of legislation.

“Two things I greatly appreciate about Representative Gottlieb are his refreshing candor and strong fortitude,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “As the minority party in the Legislature, we’re aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. What we need right now is someone who is unwavering under extreme pressure to help guide our Caucus during difficult moments. Representative Gottlieb is perfectly suited for this role.”

As Whip, Representative Hunschofsky will be responsible for keeping all Democratic Caucus members apprised of Caucus policy on any bills or issues before the House.

Representative Hunschofsky has an amazing ability to get things done,” said Leader-Designate Driskell. “Not only does Representative Hunschofsky possess a wealth of knowledge due to her experience as the former mayor of Parkland, Florida, she is also a champion of many initiatives close to Floridians’ hearts, such as expanding access to quality mental health care. I know Representative Hunschofsky’s knowledge and ability will help prepare our Caucus for the challenges of the next two year.”

The Florida House Democratic Caucus will convene during Organizational Session taking place Nov. 21-22, 2022 in advance of the 2023 Legislative Session scheduled to begin on March 7, 2023.

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VIDEO: State Rep. Dianne Hart elected chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus

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ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Dianne Hart (D-Tampa), incoming Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, talks briefly with Florida National News on the importance of the Florida Blue Florida Classic at Camping World Stadium in Orlando Saturday. The Florida Classic is an annual college football rivalry game between Bethune–Cookman University and Florida A&M University.

Hart’s Twitter Statement:

Hart’s statement: “I’m honored to have been elected as the Chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus.” “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support and for trusting me to move this important caucus forward.”

During the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions, Rep. Hart served on the following House committees, including Democratic Ranking Member of the Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, Judiciary Committee, Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight, Ways & Means Committee, Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee, State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee and Select Subcommittee on Authorized Gaming Activity.

Hart was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018. She is also the CEO of the East Tampa Business and Civic Association.

 

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Former State Rep. Bruce Antone Ready To Rejoin Florida House

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Former State Representative Bruce Antone respond to questions by CFABJ, NAACP, and the Florida Voters League panel during a candidates forum in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Former Florida State Representative Bruce Antone served 12 years (six terms) in the Florida House of Representatives and defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Travaris McCurdy during the August primary election to represent Orange County in the newly draw District 41 House seat.

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

CFABJ, NAACP, and Florida Voters League held a candidates forum for candidates seeking county, state and Congressional seats in Orange County, Thursday, October 19, 2022. (Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News)

Antone was among eleven candidates seeking election to county, state and Congressional seats participating in a candidate forum hosted by CFABJ, NAACP and the Florida Voters League, Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

Green Party nominee Robin Denise Harris is the only potential road block in Antone’s return to Tallahassee and faces off with him in the November general election. The District 41 House seat has an overwhelmingly Democratic voter base.

During his time in the Florida House, Antone was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the 29-member Florida Legislative Black Caucus.

The general election is Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

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