Jewish chair of Florida’s Democratic Party arrested at abortion rights protest


(JTA) — Nikki Fried, who chairs Florida’s Democratic Party, was arrested at a protest for abortion rights in the state capital, along with 10 other demonstrators.

The protest on Monday night, which took place outside Tallahassee City Hall, was in opposition to a proposed six-week abortion ban in Florida that the state senate passed Monday evening. The bill must pass the state House of Representatives before heading to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Fried, who is Jewish, previously served as Florida’s commissioner of agriculture, a rare Democrat elected to statewide office in Florida. Last year, she mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for governor. She became the state Democratic Party chair earlier this year.

The legislation that the state Senate advanced would tighten Florida’s already limited access to abortion. A Boynton Beach synagogue filed an early lawsuit challenging the state’s new 15-week abortion ban last year, part of a wave of activism by Jewish leaders across the country to make religious freedom arguments in favor of abortion rights.

Fried and the other protesters were arrested hours after the state Senate vote, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, a local newspaper. The arrest occurred as they sat in a circle on the ground and sang “Lean on Me,” surrounding a yellow flag with a picture of a uterus. Fried wore a T-shirt reading “Just f**k!ng vote.”

The protest, which was led by women, had begun early in the day. Also arrested was state Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book. Both were released overnight, according to a local TV station.

“I’m out. And not ever backing down,” Fried tweeted along with a photo of herself in handcuffs Monday night. The tweet also repeated the slogan on her shirt.

“Florida Democrats will not back down in our defense of abortion rights,” the state Democratic Party tweeted. “Our Chair made that clear tonight.”

The state Republican Party chairman, Christian Ziegler, posted a tweet Tuesday morning mocking Fried and asking if federal loans are available because the state Democrats are “in need of extra cash to bailout their Chairman.”