A Florida scientist whose Tallahassee home was raided by gun-brandishing cops early this month after she insisted on revealing accurate COVID-19 data has defiantly vowed to continue to “speak truth to power.”
“I accepted many months ago that being a whistleblower and critic of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mismanagement of COVID-19 would likely cost me my freedom,” Rebekah Jones wrote Wednesday in an opinion piece in the Miami Herald. “I never expected armed police to enter my home to take my equipment and point guns at my children.”
Jones, the creator and former manager of Florida’s online dashboard of COVID-19 data, was fired in May after she discussed filing a whistleblower complaint laying our her accusations that officials pressured her to censor and alter case information to make it more positive.
After her firing, Jones established a “COVID Action” website from home with a new dashboard continuing to report data. Police officers this month raided her home with guns drawn and removed her tech equipment and cellphone from her house. A statement from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it was investigating an allegation that Jones may have accessed Health Department information without authorization.
Despite the latest “Gestapo-like twist,” Jones wrote, she continues to seek to “provide Floridians the information and resources needed to make informed decisions during an aggressively anti-science period in American history.”
She won’t be cowed, Jones wrote, and no one else should be, either.
“To all the would-be whistleblowers considering coming forward, but who might be scared by the raid on my home: Never let the fear of retaliation temper your desire to be a good, honest person,” she wrote.
“I will continue to speak truth to power, to provide critical information on coronavirus and environmental issues, and never allow a man so devoid of empathy and humanity” — meaning DeSantis —“silence my voice.”
She predicted that true accounts of what happened in the state during the devastating pandemic will become “more widely known over time” and that people who have been fired or quit will step forward.
“The revelations about the state’s obstruction during this response will change our democracy forever,” she concluded. “Until then, I will be here, focusing on the data.”
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