Simon Adams is a staff member of the Dream Defenders, a multi-racial movement of young people organizing to build power in communities across Florida to advance a new vision of the state — one that divests from policing and imprisonment and invests in care. Adams sat down with Solana Rice, co-executive director of Liberation in a Generation, before the passage of HB1 — a Florida law that restricts the right to protest and was written in response to last summer’s uprisings. He broke down what the law means for organizers in the state and why community is critical in this fight. The interview has been edited and condensed. 



Tell us about HB1. What it is and why is it important to know about?

HB1 will make protesting a secondary degree felony, an aggravated rioting charge. You are [also] allowed to kill or do bodily harm to protestors in defense of property, which is basically an expansion of stand your ground. And that itself is literally putting profits over people. However much that property is worth, I don't want to be wrong here, but I think it's around a five figure digit, and a young five figure digit. And just to evaluate a life at that same price point, at any price point, is completely unjust.

Another thing that it does is allow the state to have control over all municipal police budgets. So, as you know, every community, according to their size, according to their culture, needs different policing. You cannot have the same type of law enforcement here in Orlando as in The Villages in Florida. It will not work out. So especially seeing that the Florida State Legislature is not likely to drop any police budgets in a municipality, that means it's all inflating. And that just means more police oversight and more dead Black bodies. So we definitely can't stand for that.


What advice would you give to others that might be fighting similar fights in their neck of the woods? 

This isn't only a Florida thing. If you're outside of Florida, you have a lot of ways to tap in. You can build projects and think tanks that inspire transformative justice from police and prisons. Pay attention to your state attorney race, keep them accountable. Bring attention and awareness to mass incarceration in your state and local community. Join a political organization whose values tend to be in harmony with yours. And at the end of the day, protect Black lives within any area of the country that you're in. The only thing to focus on is community, community, community. If you have nowhere to go, don't be alienated. If it's not there, create it. This is not a solo fight. I'm especially talking to my Black brothers and sisters out there, Black trans folks.


What is being said but remains unheard? 

The obvious answer here is Black Lives Matter. I think that this capitalist system has exploited just the phrase of Black Lives Matter, the fact that we heard it on all different radio stations for about four months straight, you know what I'm saying?  In 2014, I really was trying to dive into the idea of Black Lives Matter, and I loved it, I loved everything that it embodied. In 2020, America was able to use that Black Lives Matter terminology and flip it on its head. The exploitation of the term Black Lives Matter has completely disintegrated its purpose. At the point it becomes something to market is the moment it gets an expiration date. And when any controversial topic becomes mainstream, it loses its sustainability. Just being able to re-control the narrative of Black Lives Matter is the goal that I have for these upcoming years.


​Read the entire issue.


Created with Sketch.

Related Articles