Protester during coronavirus news conference: ‘Shame on you! You should resign Ron DeSantis!’

MIAMI – When Thomas Kennedy learned Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Miami on Monday to meet with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, he saw an opportunity.

Kennedy, a longtime Miami-Dade advocate for undocumented immigrants and the son of local Argentinian-American activists, said he is not a fan of Gimenez or DeSantis.

The Florida coordinator of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country, has been expressing his frustration on social media. His 24,000 followers on Twitter were not surprised to learn he was the heckler at DeSantis’ news conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“Shame on you! You are an embarrassment! We are getting record-breaking cases every day and you are doing nothing,” Kennedy said. “You are falsifying information and you are misleading the public. Over 4,000 people have died and you are blaming the protesters. You guys have no plan and you are doing nothing.

“Shame on you! Shame on you!”

When a man pushed him to leave the room, Kennedy shouted, “Social distance! Don’t touch me! Shame on both of you!” Kennedy continued shouting as he walked out.

“You should resign Ron DeSantis!”

Kennedy recorded the incident and shared the video on his Twitter account. The Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporter has been frustrated at how officials’ “rushed to reopen” and were not prepared to help the unemployed.

DeSantis ignored Kennedy. During the news conference, he asked the public to wear face masks and practice social distancing. He said the rise of cases comes when there is more knowledge about treatment and more access to personal protective equipment.

“We have to address the virus with steady resolve. We can’t get swept away in fear. We have to understand what is going on — understand that we have a long road ahead ― but we also have to understand that within the context of the moment,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis also said the coronavirus tests’ positivity rate has decreased. Official data shows it decreased from 20% to 11% over the weekend. The Florida Department of Health epidemiologists’ goal is to have a positivity rate of less than 5%.

“We will see if that is a trend or whether that would be something that is shortlived,” DeSantis said.

The DOH has associated COVID-19 to 4,381 deaths in Florida since they started to record cases in March. Kennedy has been upset about how he says the officials have ignored the needs of the most vulnerable.

“As a Floridian, I feel like my voice is not being heard. I feel like I don’t have a channel ... where to vent my frustrations towards our failed and incompetent political leadership,” said Kennedy, adding “I don’t feel like they are representing me and I don’t feel like they are doing a good job.”


About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.