The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), ACLU of Florida, and Community Justice Project filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida challenging a recently enacted state law (H.B. 1) designed to chill Floridians’ First Amendment right to free speech and peaceful assembly in the wake of last summer’s demonstrations against police violence.
The law targets Black protestors and their allies who demand racial justice and has already slowed protest activity among Black organizers in Florida. The law was passed in direct response to national protests – the vast majority of which were non-violent – demanding justice for the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and a reimagining of public safety.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Black-led organizations The Black Collective, Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, Chainless Change, Dream Defenders, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, and the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville. The law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is serving as counsel with the civil rights groups. The lawsuit argues that H.B. 1 violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution by chilling protected speech and criminalizing protest activity.