FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2011
Contact: Mike Cantone
Mobile: 804 543 4976
Recently, photos of Central Florida citizen activists were distributed at a Rep Tim Griffin’s government-sponsored Town Hall by his staffers in Arkansas. The packets that are being distributed include photos of local activists, including some Organize Now supporters, along with a list of questions about their personal and professional backgrounds.
Most of the people featured in the packets are constituents of Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL) and were outspoken at the Representative’s Town Halls.
“It seems clear that the presentation of these materials is intended to encourage harassment of these citizen activists and to intimidate other citizens from speaking out across America by attacking those who have already spoken out,” said Tamecka Pierce, President of Organize Now, who is also profiled in the document. “This behavior is unfitting for any member of Congress or their Congressional staff and represents a threat to the First Amendment rights of all citizens. This type of state sponsored intimidation, is a troubling, direct danger to our democratic process.”
“Citizens everywhere should be concerned as to whether or not tax payer dollars and resources were used to profile fellow Americans in an attempt to silence their voices and what role Congressional offices or campaigns played in disseminating state-sponsored intimidation of private citizens,” said Mike Cantone, Political Director for Organize Now, who was also profiled.
“These fear tactics are reminiscent of the incendiary “Wanted” posters for Planned Parenthood doctors and activists and Sarah Palin’s crosshairs on Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ district -- threats and intimidation tactics that led to real violence and even murder,” said another local activist, who was also profiled in the handout, but is fearful of being quoted directly because of further possible retribution while looking for employment. “The Constitution welcomes and protects open, honest and impassioned speech by the citizenry, no matter the party affiliation, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, it seems that Rep. Webster does not tolerate dissent and has placed constituents who often disagree on some kind of ‘watch list,’ which has been distributed to the public by at least one other Congressional office.”
“This action sends a clear message to constituents: If you disagree, keep quiet or face retribution,” says Pierce. “I’m scared to know that if I speak at a public meeting, that the Federal Government will use their vast tax-payer funded resources to spread lies and fear across the country. Big government should not be used to intimidate its citizens.”
Organize Now is a Florida community-based organization engaged in and committed to building power to effect change in times of injustice, maintain and protect our existing rights in the state of Florida whenever and wherever injustices are being committed or civil rights are being infringed upon. Organize Now has been very active in holding Florida elected officials accountable to their votes and actions this summer, including Rep. Webster. For more information, visit www.orgnow.org.