TALLAHASSEE, FL – The ACLU of Florida commended Governor Charlie Crist and the other members of the Florida Board of Executive Clemency for their resolution recommending that the state of Florida expunge the criminal records of Florida’s civil rights movement heroes.
The ACLU also commends the governor for his role in creating a Civil Rights Hall of Fame at the capitol as a tribute to the sacrifices of Florida’s civil rights leaders and a memorial to Florida’s civil rights movement, which played a pivotal role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
“While we commend the governor for honoring Florida’s civil rights heroes and recognizing Florida’s civil rights movement, we urge him and the rest of the Clemency Board to solve the injustices of the present,” stated Muslima Lewis, Director of the ACLU of Florida’s Racial Justice and Voting Rights Projects. “If the governor and the Clemency Board truly wish to honor the legacy of the leaders of the civil rights movement, they will act now to reform Florida’s civil rights ban.”
The ACLU has urged the governor and the other members of the Clemency Board to act decisively to address on-going civil rights deprivations, fulfilling the promise of automatic rights restoration that was made to Floridians in 2007.
“We are pleased to see the governor honor the legacy of civil rights Freedom Fighters,” said Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida Executive Director. “With the establishment of a civil rights hall of fame at the capitol, and clearing of the records of civil rights pioneers, our elected leaders have underscored the importance of the civil rights movement in securing equality for all Floridians. We thank the governor; the clemency board; Senator Tony Hill; Representative Alan B. Williams of the Florida Black Legislative Caucus; and Rev. Wright, Florida SCLC, for their work on these issues.
But the governor and the members of the cabinet also need to address current civil rights problems – most importantly ending Florida’s Jim Crow lifetime disfranchisement system, which is a blemish on Florida’s history that needs to be erased. That is the truly unfinished business of the civil rights movement,” added Simon.
In a December 3 letter, the ACLU and other local, state and national organizations urged the Clemency Board to issue an executive order granting restoration of voting and other civil rights to Floridians with non-violent offenses. This request was followed by a December 9 letter from several South Florida rock bands also urging for reform of Florida’s Reconstruction-era ban on voting and other civil rights.
A copy of the ACLU of Florida’s December 3rd letter is available HERE
About the ACLU of Florida
The ACLU of Florida is freedom's watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.