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Florida’s Protest Bill, Class Of COVID-19, A Renaissance For Psychedelics

Black Lives Matter Weston protest Gerard Albert III 2.jpeg
Gerard Albert III/WLRN
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On this Monday, Feb. 8, episode of Sundial

Florida’s Protest Bill

The right to protest is essential to American democracy — important enough that it’s the First Amendment of the Constitution. But here in Florida, the constitutionally-protected right to protest may be under fire.

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Legislation proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year would raise the penalty for protesters found blocking streets, damaging property or intimidating law enforcement.

“There were about 70 members of the public that showed up [to the bill’s first hearing] and most of them were young and Black and they were slamming the proposal. Democrats hated [the bill]. Republican leaders have indicated to both chambers that this is a priority. So it was passed along party lines, meaning all Democrats voted against it and then all Republicans voted for it,” said Ana Ceballos, a reporter for the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times based in Tallahassee.

DeSantis has argued the bill is meant to target what he calls “rioters,” not peaceful protestors. But civil rights advocates believe it's criminalizing civil disobedience.

Ceballos added that a House Democrat has pointed out to her the bill is destined to pass.

“In the Senate, the first chairman of the first committee has already expressed openness to considering it. This could very much well be a bill that gets to the floor the first week of session in March,” Ceballos said.

Florida’s Protest Bill
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Class Of COVID-19

The pandemic has widened the already existing gaps in Florida’s education system. Some students may be attending online class with spotty internet connectivity — or worse, not showing up to class at all.

"Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis for Florida's Vulnerable Students" tells the stories of these students, teachers and parents.

“This project truly came about as a collaboration of public media organizations throughout the state of Florida. Reporters and editors, journalists from around the state were concerned about how dire the situation was becoming in terms of students, and especially those students who were already facing the biggest obstacles to success in school, just in some cases falling off the grid completely,” said Jessica Bakeman, WLRN's education reporter and the project’s editor.

The special radio hour will air Monday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 14 at 6:00 a.m. You can also hear it online and read all of the stories in the project here.

Class of COVID-19
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A Renaissance For Psychedelics And Acid

Psychedelics and hallucinogens like “magic mushrooms” or LSD have gotten a bad rep over the years. Some experts say these substances are going through a renaissance, as medical research points to the positive effects these drugs can have on mental health, in specific circumstances.

“I'm a scientist and I think all good science comes out of questions. And I want to understand how it [psychedelics] could be this powerful? I started reading all of the research from the '50s and '60s, there had been over a thousand peer-reviewed papers with research showing promise of psychedelics in over 40,000 human subjects, which all got washed away in the 1970 passage of the Controlled Substance Act,” said Dr. Jerry B. Brown, a founding professor of anthropology at Florida International University with 42 years of experience studying psychedelics.

That act is the federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain drugs, including hallucinogens, is regulated.

Brown teaches a class on psychedelics and culture at FIU.

A Renaissance For Psychedelics And Acid
A growing body of research suggests psychedelic mushrooms may have therapeutic benefits for certain conditions. Now a movement seeks to decriminalize them.

Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.
Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.