‘Sick and tired.’ Demings pushes for gun legislation, slams Rubio at Miami rally

·3 min read

U.S. Rep. Val Demings’ first rally in the heart of Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood started with a moment of silence.

Just hours earlier, Demings said, she had gotten a text message from her communications director in Washington that 19 children and two adults were killed in a Texas elementary school by an 18-year-old. The message, she said, left her speechless.

“I’m sick and tired of innocent people being gunned down in innocent places,” Demings said, speaking to a crowd of about 50 supporters at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. She called her opponent, Florida’s senior senator, Republican Marco Rubio, a “do-nothing senator” who “likes to be comfortable.” She blasted Republicans for inaction on gun violence legislation like red-flag gun laws and universal background checks.

“There’s legislation sitting in the Senate right now that the Senate, not the Democratic members, but the Republican members including Marco Rubio, refuses to even address,” Demings told the Herald. “But he will be quick — right now he’s silent — but he will be quick to offer, I’m sure, a scripture. Or maybe some thoughts and prayers.”

Demings, a former Orlando police chief, has been previously endorsed by the anti-gun violence Giffords PAC. She retold the audience a story of her growing up in a house with guns. (Her father was a hunter, she said.)

“It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. It’s about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people: the mentally ill, terrorists, convicted felons,” she said.

In addition to gun control, other policy issues were brought up, like abortion. Attendees rallied in support as she spoke about a woman’s right to choose and her push to take action on legislation.

U.S. Rep. Val Demings shares with supporters during the “Meet the Chief” rally at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in her campaign for U.S. Senate against Sen. Marco Rubio, in Miami, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
U.S. Rep. Val Demings shares with supporters during the “Meet the Chief” rally at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in her campaign for U.S. Senate against Sen. Marco Rubio, in Miami, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

Taneefah Allen, owner of a mobile juice bar, The Health Cafe, said as a business owner, she had heard a lot of good things about Demings. Allen said her grandfather served time in the military, some in her family were police officers, and Demings’ background resonated with her.

“I kind of understand where she’s coming from, what her angle is, trying to like be there for us and stand up for us,” Allen said.

Rubio, who is from Miami, has an outstanding record as well, Allen said, which makes the race interesting. Despite this, Allen said she believes Demings has a good chance at winning.

Rafael Saldana, a 37-year-old who attended the event, said he liked Val Demings because she has a lot of real world experience. He said the energy at the event was exciting, and the fact that Demings brought that energy was a reason he was coming back to more events.

“She is someone that I feel comfortable that’s going to work hard and represent the state of Florida like it deserves to be represented,” Saldana said.

Saldana said he wants to vote for someone who is going to show up, and that’s not Rubio.

“If you’re getting paid to do a job, and it’s a hard job at that, you need to show up,” Saldana said.

Another attendee, Caroll Angelade, 70, said she’s been following Demings for a while and was thrilled to hear she would be campaigning in Miami.

“She presents herself in such a truthful way,” said Angelade, a Haitian migrant and U.S. Air Force veteran. “I admire her more because she had a career in law enforcement and I did, too... I relate to everything about her.”

Meanwhile, Rubio recently received the backing of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, as both candidates seek to brand themselves as the “law and order” candidate. Demings said that, despite that support, she believes that she has “the right people standing with me.”

“I am laser focused on getting elected to the United States Senate so that I can do the work that Marco Rubio has refused to do … I will not play politics — perhaps that’s what they’re doing,” she said. “He can parade as many chiefs and sheriffs, or whomever, whom he just found out existed.”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings reacts during the “Meet the Chief” rally at the Little Haiti Cultural Center with supporters in her race for U.S. Senate against Sen. Marco Rubio, in Miami, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
U.S. Rep. Val Demings reacts during the “Meet the Chief” rally at the Little Haiti Cultural Center with supporters in her race for U.S. Senate against Sen. Marco Rubio, in Miami, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
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