Shouting and Spitting Lefty Protesters Hound Fla. AG Pam Bondi Out of Tampa Movie Theater
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi had to be escorted out of a Tampa theater screening of the Mister Rogers documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" by police Friday night due to screaming protesters who hounded her throughout the building.
Enraged at Bondi over her recent actions on health care policy and her stance on immigration, the activists created what the Fla. AG's spokesman called a "volatile scene," getting into Bondi's face, blocking her exit, and spitting on her.
"What would Mister Rogers think about you and your legacy in Florida? Taking away health insurance from people with pre-existing conditions, Pam Bondi!" Maria José Chapa, a labor organizer, screeches at Bondi in the video. "Shame on you!
"You're a horrible person!" another protester bellows.
Bondi told the Times that the protest conflicted with Fred Rogers' message of peace, love, and tolerance. "We were in a movie about anti-bullying and practicing peace and love and tolerance and accepting of people for their differences," Bondi said. "That's what Mister Rogers is all about. We all believe in free speech, but there's a big difference there."
The organizers didn't plan to confront Florida's top law enforcement official Friday night, Heberlein told the Times in an interview. But when one of them spotted Bondi in the ticket line before the film, he said they knew they had to say something.
According to Chapa, one of the organizers confronted Bondi before the movie over her February decision to join in a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act — a move seen by many progressives as a threat to people with pre-existing conditions covered under the law.
"[Another protester] approached her first and she was trying to engage with her and ask her difficult questions, and she felt uncomfortable answering the questions," Chapa told the Times. "And I guess she felt threatened because she called the police."
The Tampa Police Department confirmed that they got a call from Florida Highway Patrol asking for help escorting Bondi out of the Tampa Theatre.
Asked by the Times about their protest, the Organizer Florida activists played down the confrontation.
Heberlein said that the movie's depiction of Rogers's work with children reminded him of what he sees as Bondi's support for conservative immigration and health care policies that hurt the most vulnerable Floridians. But he conceded that he and his friends likely would have confronted Bondi no matter what film they were seeing.
"I feel like even if we went to see The Incredibles we would have said something," Heberlein said.
Say something they did. Chapa said she tried to engage Bondi in a conversation about health care and immigration after the movie, but she was rebuffed. That's when the shouting started.