The protests first began around 1 p.m. with only a few dozen protesters entering the lobby of the governor's office, per the Miami Herald. DeSantis, however, was not present in the capitol at the time of the protest.
The protest picked up steam later in the night, with demonstrators planting themselves firmly in DeSantis’ office, locking arms with one another, sitting on the carpet, and refusing to comply with police officers. Officers issued warnings to vacate the area within 20 minutes at roughly 7 p.m., prompting many protestors to exit. Officers then began making arrests around 7:30 p.m. on those that remained.
Far-left activists occupied the Florida capitol building as revenge for lawmakers restricting CRT propaganda in public education & prohibiting schools from compelling pronoun speech for school teachers & staff. pic.twitter.com/Y0Ps1N0zYu— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) May 4, 2023
The protestors belong to a group of student activists known as the Dream Defenders, with other groups such as Florida Rising and Showing Up for Racial Justice appearing at the protest.
The protestors largely did not prevent staffers from working within the capitol but did cause concern among the staff. Hilariously, one staff member began to eat a slice of chocolate cake as the protest was raging on.
A staff member eats cake at the front desk in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office in the Florida Capitol while dozens of activists state a sit-in on Wednesday.— Ana Goñi-Lessan (@goni_lessan) May 4, 2023
📷: @alicia_c_devine for @TDOnline pic.twitter.com/dMaJJySNvY
Those that were arrested are facing trespassing charges as well as a year-long ban from the capitol grounds.
The bills that were protested brought major changes to Florida's education system. The first piece of legislation stops teachers and students from being forced to use pronouns that aren’t correlated to a person's biological sex, per Fox News.
The second bill bans colleges from receiving or using state or federal funds that develop or promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs.
The last bill bans transgender people from entering bathrooms that do not align with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Democrats in Florida's legislative bodies attempted to prevent the bills from being passed, but Republicans currently hold a supermajority, making the passing of such bills swift.
Other bills are currently making their way through the legislature, including legislation that would outright ban schools from being able to teach gender theory and sexual orientation to any student grade eighth and below. The bill would also allow challenges against books kept in school libraries that are deemed inappropriate for children. These in tandem are intended to protect children from sexualized content.
DeSantis and Florida's lawmakers have been passing a notable amount of bills as the Florida governor gears up for a presidential run. With the end of the legislative session on Friday, DeSantis and the Florida legislature has a solid record to run on.