Florida NAACP calls for travel advisory over DeSantis policies; governor calls it 'a joke'

Zac Anderson
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Gov. Ron DeSantis is clashing with the Florida NAACP over the civil rights group's suggestion that a travel advisory should be issued for the state because of how the governor's policies are impacting people of color.

Members of the NAACP Florida Chapter gathered in Orlando Saturday for a conference voted to ask the group's national board to issue the travel advisory, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Such advisories have been issued in the past for states with policies the NAACP deemed discriminatory.

"We’re just not going to take it anymore, we’ve been taking it long enough," said Isaiah Rumlin, president of the NAACP's branch in Jacksonville, which is supporting the push for a travel advisory.

DeSantis responded to the Florida NAACP vote Thursday.

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"What a joke," the governor said. "What a joke. Yeah, we'll see how we'll see how effective that is."

"Our country, you know, it goes through all these – we get involved in these stupid fights," DeSantis added. "This is a stunt to try to do that. It's a pure stunt, and fine if you want to waste your time on a stunt, that's fine. Look, I mean, I'm not wasting my time on your stunts. Okay. I'm gonna make sure that we're getting good things done here. And we're gonna continue to make this state a great state."

Rumlin said it's DeSantis and his policies that are the joke.

"This is not a stunt, this is not a joke," Rumlin said. "We are for real, and we intend to see it through, and he will see the results."

Rumlin pointed to a number of actions DeSantis has taken impacting how race can be discussed in Florida schools. DeSantis pushed the Stop WOKE act, which critics say will force schools to whitewash ugly aspects of the nation's history on race, and banned a new Advancement Placement course on African American studies. The governor also formed a new elections police force that has mostly targeted Black Floridians so far.

DeSantis also is pushing to eliminate all diversity, equity and inclusion programs at Florida universities.

"The governor is very insensitive as it relates to issues facing people of color in the state of Florida," Rumlin said.

Civil rights leaders have turned to boycotts in the past to exert economic pressure.

"Somebody’s going to have to stand up against the governor and his policies and make him do the right thing and one of the ways we are going to do it is in the form of a travel advisory, advising people not to visit the state, which will have a vast impact on the economy of the state of the Florida," Rumlin said.

USA TODAY Network - Florida reporter Kathryn Varn contributed to this report