Thirty-eight elected Florida Sheriffs on Thursday called on Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum to “immediately and unequivocally withdraw” his support for a radical organization’s “Freedom Pledge” that refers to anti-police rhetoric.
The letter to Gillum from the sheriffs reads:
We, the undersigned members of Florida’s law enforcement community, ask that you immediately and unequivocally withdraw your pledge to the organization, Dream Defenders. After learning of this organization’s disturbing and anti-law enforcement position and statements, we believe that any candidate wishing to lead our state should in no way be aligned with this radical group.
The pledge you signed not only calls for you to defund police and prisons, but the papers that accompany this pledge wrongly claim, “Police were never meant to protect and serve me and you…Police and prisons have no place in ‘justice’…Police and prisons aren’t just racist but they work to enforce the separations of rich and poor.”
We believe you will agree that anyone seeking to be Florida’s next Governor should support the men and women who put on a badge daily and risk their lives to protect their communities.
The pledge in question is a project of Dream Defenders, an anti-Israel, anti-capitalist group with which Gillum has evidenced a longtime close personal and professional relationship.
The pledge cites support for the organization’s socialist-style “Freedom Papers,” which declare that “police and prisons have no place in ‘justice.’” The papers further claim police “were never meant to protect and serve me and you” and “started as slave catchers hired by wealthy plantation owners.”
Dream Defenders’ “Freedom Papers,” endorsed in the pledge signed by Gillum, advocate textbook socialist principals such as claiming that “by virtue of being born each of us has the absolute right to adequate food, shelter, clothing, water, healthcare, effective public transportation, dignified work, living wages.”
Gillum’s campaign responded to the controversy over his signing of the pledge saying that he was supportive of police as mayor of Tallahassee.
“The mayor has been a strong ally of law enforcement in Tallahassee, investing in additional officers to help reduce crime across the city,” said Johanna Cervone, spokeswoman for Gillum’s campaign. “As Mayor Gillum has previously said, he will not take money from the private prison industry and instead will invest in community policing, smart justice and strategies that work with communities to reduce crime and create better opportunities for all Floridians.”
Gillum previously posted a picture of himself on Facebook posing with Phillip Agnew, the co-founder of Dream Defenders. “Ran into two Rattlers today at CBC,” reads Gillum’s caption on the photo, dated September 25, 2014. “Could not be prouder of Phillip Agnew and commissioner Keon Hardemon.”
Gillum was taped at a June debate saying that he is “pleased and proud” to have sneaked food to Dream Defenders activists during a 30-day sleep-in protest at the Florida State Capital, referring to a 2013 month-long anti-gun protest in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. “I hope you keep at it,” Gillum said of Dream Defenders activists during a June event.
Dream Defenders Action Fund, the electoral and c4 nonprofit arm of Dream Defenders, was part of a progressive coalition that reportedly committed $3.5 million to help Gillum win the Democratic primary against Gwen Graham.
Gillum and Dream Defenders’ Agnew are so familiar with each other that while he was a city commissioner in Tallahassee, Gillum himself penned a glowing profile at the far-left Alternet publication promoting Agnew and the activist’s work founding Dream Defenders titled, “We need more Phillip Agnews.”
Seven years later, in response to the shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, Agnew built on his past social justice experiences and connections to form the Dream Defenders, which helped bring national attention to the Martin case. From Governor Scott’s office, the Dream Defenders pushed for a repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and a special legislative session on racial profiling and the school-to-prison pipeline, among other demands. Following 31 days in the Capitol and a commitment from Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford to hold a hearing on the state’s Stand Your Ground law, Agnew announced that the Dream Defenders would leave to refocus on civic engagement in their communities to amplify the need for reform. Dream Defenders, which continues to be led by young people of color, now has chapters on nine college campuses in Florida and continues to highlight racial and social economic justice issues.
Gillum, who would go on to become Tallahassee mayor, gushed in the March 2014 profile: “We must learn from the successes of young leaders like the Dream Defenders and recruit, train and connect thousands more local organizers and activists, particularly in underrepresented communities and regions of the country.”
Gillum and Agnew are both graduates of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, an Oakland, California-based training school for progressive revolutionaries that has spawned a list of activists who have gone on to become the who’s who of the far-left leadership world, with many taking senior positions at organizations financed by billionaire George Soros.
Breitbart News reported that in its official endorsement of Gillum, Dream Defenders said they see Gillum as “by far the best candidate for our movement to engage with in pushing our revolutionary vision.”
Dream Defenders announced the politician’s “governorship would completely change the terrain on which our movement is ﬁghting and the makeup of the Democratic Party itself.” The endorsement advertised that Gillum’s “progressive platform for Florida creates much more favorable conditions for our movement and our people.”
In its endorsement, Dream Defenders summarized the aims of its “movement” as no less than the replacement of the current state with a “people-centered” state — a clear euphemism for socialism.
“Our vision for Florida — the Freedom Papers — is one where a people-centered state replaces our current proﬁt-centered one,” Dream Defenders said.
Dream Defenders announced that Gillum is the first politician that the group has endorsed in its six-year history.
The radical organization said Gillum’s platform is critical to altering the politics of Florida and making the state a model for “progressive governance”:
This is not only one of the most progressive platforms that a Florida gubernatorial candidate has ever run on, but it is also one of the most progressive platforms we have seen from any gubernatorial candidate in the country. Florida is ground zero for far right, corporate-control of our government. With Gillum’s platform, we have the opportunity to shift this and become a model for progressive governance. It is our job to hold him — and every elected [sic] — to the promises made in this platform.
Dream Defenders praised Gillum as “the only non-millionaire (or billionaire) running for governor,” leaving out that he is openly financially backed by billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer.
Dream Defenders reminisced about Gillum aiding the organization:
Andrew Gillum is by far the best candidate for our movement to engage with in pushing our revolutionary vision. In 2014, when Gillum was Mayor of Tallahassee, the Dream Defenders shut down Tallahassee’s Annual Christmas Parade to bring attention to police violence, he didn’t have us arrested. Instead, he opened the space for us talk [sic] to the crowd.
As Breitbart News reported, a simple perusal of the website of Dream Defenders, the organization so feverishly championed by Gillum, evidences the group’s open radicalism. The organization calls for an “end” to “disaster capitalism,” rants against Independence Day and spreads malicious falsehoods about Israel.
The main page boasts that Dream Defenders is “building a powerful, deep, local, organization and movement for freedom and liberation in Florida.
A section on its website about July 4th urges supporters to “acknowledge that the independence being commemorated has not been won for the people of this land.”
Independence Day in America should be utilized “to illuminate the ‘immeasurable distances’ between U.S. citizens and the harm committed in our name around the world,” the organization states. “What to the prisoner is the fourth of July?” Dream Defenders asks. “The indigenous people who were here before white settlers?”
The anti-patriotic posting goes on to call for an end to “disaster capitalism” and the total abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, while lamenting U.S. military aid to Israel:
The only future for us to survive within is one of demilitarization, and an end to disaster capitalism, where money and weapons no longer get to criss cross borders with ease while black and brown children are held captive as collateral damage.
Why is there enough money to bomb Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, but not enough to support the self determination of migrants and refugees fleeing the very violence the U.S. has inflicted? Why is there enough money to sign contracts with private prison corporations like CoreCivic and GEO Group for hundreds of millions of dollars, but not enough money to rebuild Puerto Rico? Why are there billions of dollars allocated to Israel’s military to kill unarmed protestors [sic] but not the same investment to clean Flint’s water supply? The consequences of normalizing the immense violence perpetuated under the banner of U.S. exceptionalism ripple far and wide. We are all harmed by the racist misallocation of resources in America towards never ending extraction and destruction. We mourn for all of the lives lost this year serving the war machines.
In the U.S. thousands have rallied around the country demanding ICE be abolished and children be reunited with their families.