- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was booed out of a Tampa movie theatre by activists protesting her stances on healthcare and immigration.
- Bondi, a Republican, was there to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbour,” a biographical film about TV star Mister Rogers.
- Hecklers criticised Bondi for being part of a group of attorneys general suing to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, and for not taking a stand against the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Florida’s Republican attorney general, Pam Bondi, was escorted out of a movie theatre by police on Friday night after being confronted by labour activists over her positions on healthcare and immigration policy.
Bondi was attending a showing of “Won’t You Be Neighbour,” the biographical film of children’s TV star Mister Rogers. Rogers’ show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood,” was beloved by generations of Americans for its focus on community and tolerance.
Videos of the confrontation posted to Twitter show protesters heckling Bondi as she exited the theatre. Maria José Chappa, a labour organiser in Tampa, said she and other activists tried to respectfully engage Bondi in a dialogue about her policies. When Bondi called the police, the interaction became hostile.
“What would Mister Rogers think about your legacy in Florida? Taking away health insurance from people with existing conditions? Shame on you! Shame on you!” one protester can be heard shouting at Bondi as uniformed officers walked her to her car.
“You’re a horrible person!” yelled another.
In February, Bondi joined 19 other Republican attorneys general in a lawsuit to invalidate the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. This month, the Trump administration’s Justice Department decided they wwould not challenge the suit.
If the lawsuit against the ACA succeeds, people with pre-existing conditions would no longer be guaranteed healthcare coverage. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson estimated in a recent speech that about 7.8 million Floridians who live with pre-existing conditions would be affected.
Approximately 1.7 million people in Florida get their health insurance through the market created by the ACA, and over 90% receive subsidies from the federal government to lower their premiums, according to the Orlando Sun Sentinel.
Bondi has also come under fire for her explicit and implicit support of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Dozens of children separated from their parents and taken into custody as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy are currently being held in south Florida shelters, along with over 1,000 more children who arrived to the US without relatives.
One activist can be heard asking, “Would Mr. Rogers take children away from their parents?” Unlike Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Bondi has not publicly come out against the family separations.
Bondi is the latest in a slew of Republican officials to be heckled in public spaces over the zero-tolerance policy. Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House adviser Stephen Miller were booed out of Mexican restaurants in the DC area.
On Saturday, the owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia kicked out a group of dinner guests, including White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, over moral objections to the Trump administration’s policies.
“We were in a movie about anti-bullying and practicing peace and love and tolerance and accepting of people for their differences,” Bondi told the Tampa Bay Times. “That’s what Mister Rogers is all about. We all believe in free speech, but there’s a big difference there.”
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