By Kristen Hernandez
Miami Gardens – Villij News was invited to the Florida Grassroots event with President Joe Biden, Charlie Christ, Val Demings, and Peabody award-winning actor Keegan-Michael Key at Florida Memorial University, Tuesday November 1. With such a critical midterm election taking place across the nation during the next week, listening to their stances and separating fact from fiction is challenging, but imperative.
Unfortunately, despite the fact we were invited, showed credentials, were on an approved press list and on time, we were denied entry and missed the entire event. A Miami Gardens Police Department barricade posted several blocks from the entrance of Florida Memorial University stopped us, right next to Florida State Representative Joseph Scott Geller and his daughter, and some of his staffers who were also denied entry. Rep Joe Geller currently serves and represents district 100, which includes most of Hollywood in South Broward County and parts of Miami-Dade.
Others couldn’t get passed the barricade either. Several staffers of Val Demings stepped away to live stream the outside crowd, but were denied reentry. A university student, Tianna “Tee” Ayulo tried to get into her dorm but was denied access for two hours, until the event began. An elderly woman walking home after grocery shopping was stopped and had to wait, although her home was just a block away.
The chaotic logistical nightmare drew a crowd of frustrated citizens. A group of minority students became irate, yelling at officers about how they were denied entry due to the color of their skin. Assistant Chief of Miami Gardens PD, Joseph Nargiso, walked over to stand with the girls and talk to them.
He explained the seriousness of the situation, how officers were protecting the President of the United States, Joe Biden, who was approaching in his motorcade, and the reason Secret Service was denying access to everyone, regardless of skin color. Soon, the Chief had the group laughing, expertly demonstrating how to deescalate a tense situation which could have potentially gotten out of control.
Once Grassroots began, a Secret Service SUV came to get Rep Geller and his daughter. Eventually, the barricade came down and pedestrians were permitted to pass, but entry into the event would remain closed.
Our responsibility as journalists is to report truth to our community so residents can be informed during the upcoming elections. Democrats need support to win and keep a Congress majority. We should have been permitted to hear the arguments residents of Pompano Beach need to know.
The Sunshine State represents a key battleground state for the midterm elections. President Biden was clear when he spoke on Tuesday, referring to “Mega MAGA’s” or “extreme MAGA Republicans.”
“Folks, this ain’t your grandfather’s Republican Party. This is a different breed of cat,” Biden stressed. “Democracy is on the ballot… This election is not a referendum. It’s a choice. It’s a choice between two vastly different visions for America,” Biden said.
The president detailed the “stark contrast” between Democrats and Republicans when it came to issues of Social Security, Medicare, abortion rights, and student loan debt. “There are a lot of good Republicans out there, but they’re under a lot of pressure.”
A senior Biden advisor told CNN, “As the congressional Republican plan to either eliminate Social Security and Medicare, cut Social Security and Medicare, or hold it hostage to debt limit negotiations becomes even more apparent…it’s even more relevant for the President to draw that choice for the voters of Florida and the voters across the country.”
Gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Crist was enthusiastic about Biden’s campaigning.“He’s the most important man in the world. The fact that he’s coming down to Florida with a week to go until the election says everything you need to know about how important Florida is,” Crist said.
Biden praised Florida’s potential new governor, saying “Charlie Crist is a man you all know and trust. He’s always working for you, fighting for working class families like yours. He was a great governor before and he’ll make an even greater governor again, because of who he’s going to be replacing.”
When discussing Val Demings, candidate for Florida State Senate, Biden said, “Whether it’s building an economy that works for everyone, or keeping communities safe, protection and right to choose, Chief Val Demmings, she’s the real deal – defined by one word: commitment. She does what she says.”
Biden’s picture of America’s future with a Republican stronghold in Congress was grim. Democrats need to win the state of Florida. However, denying press access to such a key political event doesn’t help that agenda, as we are the people tasked with spreading their messages. We, the people and fellow constituents, please don’t forget that. Go vote on Tuesday, November 8.