Student Organizer of Statewide Protest Against Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Suspended for Handing Out Pride Flags: Report
Jack Petocz, the student who organized a statewide school walkout and protest against Florida Republicans’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill has been suspended indefinitely, reportedly for handing out pride flags, which he says school administrators confiscated.
Thousands of students in at least 20 schools across the state participated in the protest Thursday, including about 400 to 500 at Petocz’s Flagler Palm Coast High School, where he is a junior.
Petocz had worked with school administrators who initially supported his plan to hold a short walk out but Petocz says hours before the protest was to begin Flagler Palm Coast High School Principal Greg Schwarz called it off, local news outlet FlaglerLive reports. Petocz believes one school board member he has clashed with in the past, who was seen walking around the school Wednesday with Principal Schwarz may have ordered the protest to be canceled.
“Petocz was suspended after the protest because he distributed pride flags after being told not to,” FlaglerLive reports.
Petocz is taking on the administration’s actions.
“Today, I led a planned and preapproved rally at Flagler Palm Coast High School in my home state of Florida in opposition to the homophobic and discriminatory legislation being pushed by Governor DeSantis and the Florida State Legislature,” Petocz says in a statement. “Over 500 students from my school joined thousands of other concerned youth statewide to demonstrate their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom to protest. Students waved pride flags and stood together, showing the politicians peddling bigotry that we will not be silenced. We made our plea to those actively targeting us, the same people who pledged to protect and empower all Floridians.”
“Although the school administration had initially approved the rally and expressed support for students’ civil liberties, their demeanor and tone drastically shifted as the rally progressed. Administrators began confiscating pride flags and attempted to remove them from campus. As the leader of the rally and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, I encouraged my fellow students not to give in to the school’s unconstitutional seizure of our pride flags, but instead to continue demonstrating our pride in a peaceful manner,” Petocz says.
“After the rally, I was informed that I had been indefinitely suspended. School administrators allowed me to collect my things and then escorted me off-campus.”
‘We Say Gay’: Thousands of Students Across Florida Walk Out to Protest DeSantis-Backed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill
“I am proud of who I am and I am proud of all of those protesting these regressive bills. We must let our politicians know that no matter how hard they try, they cannot suppress our identities or silence our voices. Gen-Z will not stand idly by as our rights are stripped from us. It is now up to you to decide which side of history you will be on, the side that empowers us or the side that seeks to erase us.”
Florida’s first LGBTQ Latino state lawmaker weighed in:
#DontSayGay has not even passed the Florida Senate and students are being suspended indefinitely for handing out pride flags in protest of the bill. 🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️ #DeSantis has truly turned Florida into an anti-gay hellhole. 😡 https://t.co/j7MDkElxgo
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) March 3, 2022
In a disturbing revelation school board attorney Kristry Gavin reportedly told FlaglerLive, “I’m sorry he believes … he should be permitted to have the gay pride flag, the rainbow flag or whatever, but when it carries a connotation of political a statement, it’s no longer [permissible.]”
There is a Change.org petition to have Petocz’s suspension rescinded. It has received over 1700 signatures in just hours.
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Republicans Are ‘Obstructing Justice’ and ‘Becoming Accessories’ to Trump’s ‘Crimes’: Former Prosecutor
In the wake of Donald Trump‘s numerous recent social media rants attacking various prosecutors investigating his possibly unlawful acts, and his claim over the weekend that he will be indicted on Tuesday, many House and Senate Republicans have been rushing to his defense, wrongly claiming he is the victim of a political prosecution.
At least two former federal prosecutors are blasting them, with one saying it is “illegal” to interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation, and another warning Republicans are engaging in obstruction of justice and are becoming “accessories after the fact.”
On Saturday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy slammed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is expected this week to indict the former president.
“Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump,” McCarthy wrongly told Americans. “I’m directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.”
READ MORE: Trump Files Sweeping Legal Motion to Try to Block Georgia Grand Jury Findings and District Attorney Fani Willis
McCarthy’s tweet was highly criticized, including by retired Democratic U.S. Congressman John Yarmouth of Kentucky.
“I may end being not fully accurate, but Kevin McCarthy may be implicitly endorsing falsifying business records, tax fraud, campaign finance crime, and more, including obstruction of justice, when undermining the justice system is exactly what his tweet does,” tweeted Yarmouth.
McCarthy didn’t stop there.
“Alvin Bragg is abusing his office to target President Trump while he’s reduced a majority of felonies, including violent crimes, to misdemeanors. He has different rules for political opponents,” McCarthy alleged on Sunday. “Republicans stopped the radical DC crime law, and we will investigate any use of federal funds that are used to facilitate the perversion of justice by Soros-backed DA’s across the country.”
Some Republicans injected what many see as the GOP’s increasing embrace of antisemitism into their attacks against Bragg.
U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) on Sunday tweeted: “Alvin Bragg is bought by George Soros. He allows violent criminals to walk the streets of New York City, but will prosecute the likely Republican nominee (and former president) on a baseless misdemeanor charge. These people are trying to turn America into a third-world country.”
Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the Chair of the House Republican Conference and an ultra-MAGA extremist, also used the Soros reference, which experts have said can be antisemitic: “The Soros-backed woke prosecutor Alvin Bragg must testify under oath before Congress.”
Attorney and writer David Lurie, pointing to both McCarthy’s and Vance’s tweets, wrote: “GOP politicians like McCarthy, Trump and JD Vance now routinely include antisemitic conspiracism in their political rhetoric.” He linked to this article he wrote at Public Notice.
“JD Vance is advancing a claim that a Jew ‘bought’ a respected prosecutor, who just happens to be Black,” Lurie added. “Double bigotry in just one tweet.”
U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) also engaged in the antisemitic “Soros-backed” reference.
READ MORE: ‘RICO’: Trump Could Be Facing Racketeering and Conspiracy Charges Used to Prosecute Organized Crime
Speaker McCarthy “is right,” Scott tweeted, “and I fully support his call for an investigation. No federal dollars should be used to prop up this radical, Soros-backed activist attorney or his gross political attacks.”
U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) on Sunday said District Attorney Bragg “should focus on the violent criminals terrorizing New York instead of pursuing politically motivated charges against” Donald Trump.
On Monday, a former federal prosecutor for 30 years, Glenn Kirschner, issued a warning for Republicans.
“In a very real sense, congressional Republicans who use their power & their office to thwart criminal prosecutions of Donald Trump are becoming accessories after the fact to Trump’s crimes. They are obstructing justice. And we can expect [it] to continue if it goes unaddressed.”
Kirschner was responding to this tweet from noted Harvard professor of law (retired) Laurence Tribe: “House Republicans are gathered at a luxury resort near Disney World where House Judiciary Chair JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio) & senior GOP leaders are preparing to demand testimony from members of Manhattan DA’s Office amid reports of an imminent Trump indictment.”
READ MORE: ‘This Man Is a Criminal’: George Conway Busts GOP’s ‘Completely Ridiculous’ Trump Defense
Monday afternoon Jordan and his colleagues did just that, sending a letter to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, demanding he hand over communications and testify before Congress to explain his prosecution of Trump.
“Was the Manhattan DA’s office in communication with DOJ about their investigation of President Trump?” Jordan tweeted. “Was the Manhattan DA’s office using federal funds to investigate President Trump? Alvin Bragg owes our committee answers.”
In response, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), an attorney and former military prosecutor with the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps, called Jordan’s actions “illegal.”
“Dear @Jim_Jordan,” Lieu tweeted. “Local prosecutors, including DA Bragg, owe you nothing. In fact, it is illegal for you and @JudiciaryGOP to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation, or a criminal trial (if there is one).”
‘RICO’: Trump Could Be Facing Racketeering and Conspiracy Charges Used to Prosecute Organized Crime
Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis is reportedly considering RICO charges against Donald Trump in her probe of his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, CNN reports. RICO charges are generally used when prosecuting organized crime cases.
“The reason that I am a fan of RICO is, I think jurors are very, very intelligent,” Willis had said last year about a different case. “They want to know what happened. They want to make an accurate decision about someone’s life. And so RICO is a tool that allows a prosecutor’s office and law enforcement to tell the whole story.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a law professor and an NBC News/MSNBC contributor, Monday morning on Twitter, pointing to CNN’s report, said Willis “is seriously considering a RICO charge.” She repeated that claim on MSNBC shortly after.
READ MORE: Experts Warn Trump Is Encouraging Violence One Day After He Announces Rally at Waco on 30th Anniversary of Siege
CNN reports, “Investigators have a large volume of substantial evidence related to a possible conspiracy from inside and outside the state, including recordings of phone calls, emails, text messages, documents, and testimony before a special grand jury. Their work, the source said, underscores the belief that the push to help Trump was not just a grassroots effort that originated inside the state.”
On-air Monday morning, CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig, a former federal and state prosecutor, explained conspiracy, racketeering, and RICO, saying, “conspiracy” is “a loaded word. But all it really means is an agreement, a meeting of the minds between two or more people to commit a crime.”
But he added, “if we go up to racketeering, now, this is a really powerful tool the prosecutors use. What you have to do is show two things. First of all, the existence of what we call a racketeering enterprise, that can be a Mafia family, that can be a drug trafficking organization, but it could also be a corporation or a political entity, and then you have to show that they engage in what we call a pattern of racketeering activity, meaning that they committed two or more crimes in an organized fashion, which brings us to this other new piece of information. There’s a third phone call we already know about, of course, the infamous phone call to Brad Raffensperger. ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes.’ There’s also a public recording of Donald Trump talking to this investigator, Francis Watson, when he tells her, ‘when the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised.'”
READ MORE: ‘Reacting to a Cult Leader’: Trump Supporters Organizing to ‘Stock Up on Weaponry’ Says GOP Adviser
“Now we know, Trump also called the former Georgia Speaker of the House asking him to convene a special session,” Honig continued. “As we know we’ve heard from some of the grand jurors special grand jurors who’ve come out, they’ve told us that they recommended indictments for more than a dozen people.”
Watch CNN’s report below or at this link.
Prosecutors in Atlanta are considering bringing RICO charges in connection with Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.@eliehonig breaks it down: pic.twitter.com/H7YXKQnus8
— CNN This Morning (@CNNThisMorning) March 20, 2023
‘This Man Is a Criminal’: George Conway Busts GOP’s ‘Completely Ridiculous’ Trump Defense
George Conway ripped Republicans for defending lifelong “criminal” Donald Trump against a looming indictment in New York.
The ex-president apparently expects to be charged in the Stormy Daniels hush money payoff, and the conservative attorney told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he richly deserves it.
“The Republicans are behaving like complete disgraces,” Conway said. “They’re basically saying that, by saying that Trump is being persecuted, they’re essentially saying, you can’t touch Trump and Trump is above the law. Whatever slack you might have wanted to cut a former president, that was gone after Jan. 6. This man is a recidivist criminal, he’s committed fraud all his life, he’s lied all of his life.”
“This Stormy Daniels thing was something he cooked up,” Conway added. “The notion that [Michael] Cohen is going to be discredited on it is ridiculous given the paper trail. We see the checks signed by Donald Trump. It’s hard to say he is being picked on for paying $130,000 in hush money to a porn star and concealing that and using a straw donor, which was Cohen, to do that, and saying he’s being persecuted somehow when no one has ever done that it is completely ridiculous.”
RELATED: Georgia weighs slapping Trump with racketeering charges: CNN
Watch the video below or at this link.
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