- Waiting to see the Governor: Pictured from the left: Sandy Hines of Lake City, Abe Bonowitz of Jupiter, SueZann Bosler of Hallendale, Andrew Mason (crouching) of Orlando, Joe Brew of Gainesville, Bernie Welch of St. Augustine, and Dennis Lane of Jacksonville.
In frustration that recently signed execution warrants had been stayed, Florida Governor Jeb! Bush ran at the mouth along the lines of:
“For “the families of these victims, justice has been denied,” Bush said Thursday. “It is very troubling that we do not have a death penalty process that puts them front and center. … Families are aching in pain.” (Orlando Sentinel – July 12, 2002).
Similar quotes appeared statewide. Something had to be done.
While working with murder victim family member SueZann Bosler on an op-ed to be distributed to the newspapers, FADP director Abe Bonowitz received Jeb!’s weekly e-mail and checked his schedule. And there it was – a special notice about open office hours in Lake City.
“NOTICE!!! NOTICE!!! NOTICE!!!
On Tuesday, July 16, 2002, Governor Jeb Bush and Lieutenant Governor Frank Brogan will hold Open Office Hours in Lake City Columbia County). The one-on-one, 5-minute meetings with citizens will take place at Lake City Community College in the Medical Technology Building beginning at 8:00 a.m. Registration begins at 7:00 a.m. It is first come-first serve, so get there early!!”
FADP received that notice on Saturday night, and mobilized on Sunday. SueZann canceled or rescheduled two days worth of appointments (she is a house-calling hair dresser for abolition!) and by five PM Monday we were on our way North — again in the un-air conditioned abolition-mobile. We picked up Andrew Mason in Orlando, crashed at Amy Jo’s house in Gainesville, met Joe Brew at the Gainesville Kinkos at 5:15 and were in line at Lake City Community College by 6:20am. Bernie Welch and Dennis Lane soon arrived from St. Augustine and Jacksonville, and FSU Film School student Laura Cardona arrived with her camera — all the way from Atlanta. Ahead of us in line was fellow abolitionist Sandy X, who lives in Lake City.
Shortly after 8am, the line of Floridians waiting to see the Governor was allowed into the building. We were hardly searched (“Do you have any knives?”), and then we signed in as individuals and were given numbers 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 before being shown into a waiting area where coffee and pastries were available. Reporter Lesley Clark from the Miami Herald found Abe and told him that we could ask to have the reporters allowed in to our meeting with the Governor…. Good!
We were a little worried, because we wanted to be sure that SueZann saw the Governor and not Lt. Gov. Brogan. The set is that the first person in line saw the Governor, the next person saw the Lt. Governor, and the next person saw whichever of the two was first available. So there were no guarantees. Soon, an aide came and found “Number 13,” SueZann, and escorted her to the meeting area. Another woman came to get “Number 14,” Abe, and escorted him in. The people with Numbers 11 and 12 had not been called yet, but when they were, Abe asked if he and SueZann could see the Governor together is the next person agreed to see the Lt. Governor. The Governor’s aids were OK with that, so Andrew Mason (Number15) sacrificed his chance to talk to Jeb!, and SueZann and Abe were soon called in to see the Governor.
To read the Transcript of the Meeting with the Governor, Click Here.
After the meeting with the Governor, the media followed us out and asked numerous questions. To see the news coverage of this event, Click Here.
Others of our group continued in line to see the leaders of our state government. Laura video taped her interview with the Governor. To read the transcript of Laura’s VERY INTERESTING interview with the Governor, Click Here.
Afterwards, the group gathered in the parking lot to compare notes. To read what the various participants thought about the experience, and what those not recorded talked about, Click Here.
Finally, FADP reimbursed SueZann $200 for lost wages and spent another $217.96 for fuel, tolls, meals for volunteers, photocopies, documentation, and liquids (the temperature hovered around 100 degrees almost all the way home – without air conditioning, we got a taste of what the prisoners live in all the time – ugh!) Of course, this expenditure was unanticipated but necessary and well worth it. If you agree, please help by using your credit card here https://www.compar.com/donation/donateform.html, or by sending a check or cash to:
2603 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hwy
Gainesville, FL 32609