‘Ban the fascists’: Political culture war makes it to steps of public school in Doral

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez’s public school visit sparks protest

DORAL, Fla. – Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez used a public school’s back entrance to avoid a group of protesters who were chanting outside during her visit on Wednesday morning in Miami-Dade County.

The protesters included Karla Hernandez-Mats, who ran against Núñez in November when Charlie Crist lost to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is now campaigning for the Republican nomination to run for president in 2024.

Florida law would allow Nuñez to assume governorship if DeSantis wins, and this concerns Hernandez-Mats, the president of United Teachers of Dade.

“We’re 48th in the nation in terms of teacher pay, and that has not changed,” Hernandez-Mats said. “It has actually only gotten worse when Governor DeSantis became governor we were 47 now we’re 48th so we have dropped.”

Karla Hernández, the president of the United Teachers of Dade, stands with protesters who waited for Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette M. Nuñez on Wednesday outside of the Dr. Rolando Espinosa K-8 Center in Doral. (Copyright 2023 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

Maxx Fenning was among the protesters who chanted loudly outside of the Dr. Rolando Espinosa K-8 Center in Doral. He was most upset about Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, which critics know as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

“We’re here to protest the fascist policies that we’re seeing against education, against academic freedom against representation in our schools,” said Fenning, a University of Florida student and the president of PRISM, a nonprofit organization that advocates for students who belong to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.

With the recent effects of the law in mind, Fenning and a few others in the crowd held up “Ban The Fascists; Save The Books,” and “Ban Ignorance, Not Books” signs. The protest embodied the ongoing polarization of the divisive political culture wars that will likely define the presidential campaigns.

When DeSantis signed the bill into law in March, he said it empowered parents to prevent classroom instruction that sexualizes “kids as young as 5 years old” and Nuñez said it kept school boards and teachers’ unions from hiding “information about students from their parents” and limited lessons on “gender orientation and sexual identity.”

Maxx Fenning, center, protests on Wednesday outside of the Dr. Rolando Espinosa K-8 Center in Doral. (Copyright 2023 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

The new law also allows parents to request reviews of books. Such was the recent case of Daily Salinas, a Miami Lakes mother, who objected to “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, who read it during President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Salinas alleged the book was written by Oprah Winfrey and it included “hate messages” so the school restricted access. As the decision made headlines, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Salinas had previously used Facebook to endorse the antisemitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and was apologetic for doing so — admitting that she had not read the books.

Miami Against Fascism’s left-wing activists also shared photos of Salinas with right-wing activists from Moms For Liberty, a parents’ rights group that civil rights advocates reported monitoring over extremism. It’s a conflict that recently turned violent during a protest outside of a school board meeting in California.


About the Authors:

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.

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.