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‘You’re better than this’: Tallahassee faith leaders criticize Gov. DeSantis, surgeon general

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 11:25 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Faith leaders gathered Tuesday afternoon at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, criticizing recent pandemic policies by Gov. Ron DeSantis and his cabinet.

Reverend RB Holmes hosted the news conference, taking aim at both the governor and his Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo.

“It’s disrespectful and dishonorable,” he said.

Dr. Ladapo received criticism following a recent incident involving Sen. Tina Polsky, after he refused to wear a mask inside her senate office.

She indicated she had a serious medical condition, and later disclosed a breast cancer diagnosis.

In a statement Tuesday, Dr. Ladapo said he’d never “knowingly be disrespectful to someone” but can’t communicate effectively masked. He said he offered to meet outside, but that request was denied.

Still, the clergymen said they are frustrated by the incident.

“The actions and behavior of Dr. Ladapo and this administration is in stark contrast to the message of faith and hope that we all believe in,” said Rev. Joe Parramore.

Another target: the Department of Education and the withholding of school board member salaries due to mask mandates in schools.

Leon County School Board Member Darryl Jones spoke at the press conference. He said the lack of salary doesn’t change his mission to serve.

“We take a solemn vow and oath to protect our children and our teachers, and no amount of money will cause any of us, including myself, to compromise that responsibility,” he said.

NAACP Tallahassee Branch President Mutaqee Akbar also defended local rule and showed support for his school board.

“They do not have a concern for this community...Governor DeSantis and those in your cabinet, please stop being a bully,” he said.

In a statement to WCTV, the Governor’s Office supported the surgeon general and defended the governor’s policies.

“The governor respects everyone’s rights to express their own opinions, but he will not allow bad-faith attacks or misinformed critiques to distract him from his job leading our state and making policies that improve Floridians’ lives,” the statement read.

Reverend Holmes said his decision to speak out is not to pick a political fight, but to save lives.

“This virus has killed people and destroyed homes,” he said.

Rev. Holmes also announced he is switching political affiliation, from Republican to Independent.

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