What happens in 2017 to Florida’s first black state attorney when she refuses to seek the death penalty in capital murder cases? She gets mailed a noose. And, unfortunately, this is not the first racist message State Attorney Aramis Ayala has received.
Orange County Sheriff’s officials say the first letter arrived March 20 at the office of Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala.
The Orlando Sentinel reports a clerk saw a racist message scrawled on an envelope addressed to Ayala, who is Florida’s first African-America state attorney. About a week later, the clerk found a second letter containing a noose made out of green twine and taped to a postcard.
Ayala has stated that she will not seek the death penalty while in office—no doubt a controversial legal position, especially in Florida. She has the support of judges and prosecutors around the country who have filed a legal brief with the Florida Supreme Court on her behalf—probably to the dismay of Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Scott, a Republican, removed Ayala from 23 capital murder cases after she refused to seek the death penalty. But Ayala is not accepting Scott’s decision without a fight.
Ayala was removed from almost two dozen death-penalty cases by Scott earlier this month after she announced in March that she would not use her prosecutorial discretion to seek the death penalty for murder suspect Markeith Loyd or any other case during her administration. Loyd is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton. Since then, she's been on the receiving end of the wrath of the governor, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Republican lawmakers, like House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [...]
Republicans in both the House and the Senate have pushed to cut Ayala's budget by more than $1 million.
Ayala has filed two lawsuits against Scott – one in the Florida Supreme Court and one in the federal court of the Middle District of Florida. In the state court case, Ayala is asking the governor to prove what constitutional authority allowed him to remove her from the 23 cases and re-assign them to Ocala-based State Attorney Brad King. Scott has said he removed Ayala because she "won't fight for justice."
So this is what happens when you don’t play ball with Republicans in Florida. Good to know. But aren’t Republicans supposed to be the religious right and the pro-life party? Oh, wait—that’s only when it comes to unborn children. When it comes to the death penalty, that’s a completely different story. At any rate, we’ll see how this all shapes up. And in the meantime, we’ll see if Scott and the Republicans do anything about racist hate directed Ayala’s way. Likely not. So much for the party of the moral majority.