ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — As we near Independence Day, activists who marched through St. Petersburg Saturday say freedom in Florida is in question.
“Floridians across the state woke up a little less free today,” said Eunic Ortiz, a local activist.
The statewide “Freedom March and People’s Gathering” events were intended to fight back against Florida’s new immigration law, which went into effect July 1.
It cuts social services for undocumented immigrants and creates harsher penalties for knowingly transporting or hiring those without proper paperwork, among other provisions.
“The incentives to come illegally in Florida have been dealt with,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis (R – Florida).
Another new law in effect Saturday bans the use of a publicly-owned bathroom or locker room that does not align with a person’s sex assigned at birth.
“A woman should not be in a locker room, having to worry about someone from the opposite sex being in their locker room,” said Gov. DeSantis.
“Is everyone angry? Yes? But are we ready to do something about it?” asked May Thach to the crowd.
Thach is with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and collected signatures for a petition to put abortion access until fetal viability on the ballot.
In Florida, 15-week and 6-week abortion restrictions signed by the governor are tied up in courts.
“It’s an arbitrary number. There’s no scientific backing to why 6 weeks, why 15 weeks. It’s just a health care service,” said Thach.
These activists say some of these laws are taking freedoms away.
“Since it is July 4th weekend, a lot of folks are thinking towards independence and yet we’ve had a number of laws come down that erode and attack our freedoms as Floridians,” said Dr. Christy Foust with Florida For All.