Southwest Florida has long benefited from community-based activist organizations. Following the 2016 elections, the number of groups exploded with the creation of Indivisible, the Women's March, and many others. The Coalition was created in early 2017 in response to this sudden burst of activism. Over time, the Coalition grew to serve 40 affiliated groups as a collaboration, information-exchange and networking hub. The issues we have tackled together include rising ocean levels and threats to clean water, the plague of gun violence, the undermining of labor protections, the fight for universal health care, threats to reproductive rights, and the systemic problems of racism, ethnic and religious intolerance, and discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation.
Today, compounding these social and economic justice challenges, two new threats confront southwest Floridians: the coronavirus pandemic and the targeted assault on American democracy. Even as health workers and responsible citizens battle the pandemic with the only tools we have - including vaccines, masks and social distancing - partisan officials and private individuals are actively undermining these efforts, resulting in large-scale avoidable suffering and death.
In parallel, political partisanship is driving a stake into the very foundations of our democracy, starting with the Big Lie that the 2020 elections were fraudulent, which led to the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. Despite boasting that Florida "had the smoothest, most successful election of any state in the country," our governor pushed for a voter suppression law. Passed by the Florida legislature, SB90 creates unnecessary hurdles to voting that will impact most heavily young, elderly, disabled and brown and black citizens. Voter suppression is not a partisan matter - our basic democratic institutions are the rightful common heritage of all Americans and they are under attack.
If you care about these issues, whatever your political affiliation, you will find a warm welcome at the SWFL Justice4All Coalition. We will introduce you to other like-minded group leaders so that you can learn about their work and discover which of them you share common ground with. Come join us in taking action: As citizens in a democracy, we not only have rights, we have responsibilities. This is not the time to remain silent.