Orlando Archives - Page 4 of 81 - Florida Politics

I-Drive plan to start fashioning ‘Downtown Orange County’

Orange County leaders long have talked about turning the International Drive region into a “downtown Orange County” essentially rivaling downtown Orlando though to different ends. On Tuesday the county board of commissioners will hear a plan that would fashion what such a district would look like.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners will hold a second public hearing and may consider adopting the I-Drive District Overlay, which row out of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs‘ Steering Review Group. It seeks to drive the I-Drive/Orange County Convention Center area into developing into a high-density, multi-purpose area where people live, work and visit.

The plan, in the works for two years, would build around the convention center, convention hotels, attractions and restaurants already there, with layers of commerce, retail, and housing. In addition to Jacobs’ steering review group, the county’s planning, public works and transportation planning divisions have been involved.

It calls for more complex street grid systems with alleys, access streets, back streets and scores more intersections, urban plazas, public squares, and other downtown features to make it a more walkable community. Public transit also is emphasized.

The proposal covers 5.5 square miles, 3,500 acres, stretching southward from Carrier Drive, following International Drive to Central Florida Parkway, and Universal Boulevard to State Road 528.

The district includes the Orland Eye attraction, the convention center and SeaWorld, but not parts of International Drive or Universal Boulevard north of Carrier, which are in the city of Orlando, nor south of Central Florida Parkway, which takes on a distinctly different character.

The area offers unique opportunities for Orange County planners and developers because while much of what now fronts International Drive may seem densely developed, there remain thousands of undeveloped acres in the region. the plan subdivides the district into eight areas that each get separate treatments: convention center; retail and hospitality, entertainment area; SeaWorld; Destination Parkway; Universal Boulevard; Rosen & Shingle Creek; and Universal.

Puerto Rico crisis panel brings it home to Florida

The social fallout from Puerto Rico’s multi-fasceted financial crisis must be dealt with in more immediate ways in Central Florida where so much of the diaspora is fleeing, a panel of scholars urged key Puerto Rican political leaders in Orlando Friday.

Their call for concern for recognizing, assisting, and empowering Puerto Ricans settling by the thousand in the Orlando-Kissimmee area was not lost on the area’s lawmakers, who, led by state Rep. Rene Plasencia, agreed that while they can do little to change the situation on the island, they can and should do more for people settling in Florida.

“I think our conversations have been on what has been happening on the island, and that’s not where our focus should be,” Plasencia said. “It should be on what we can do for Puerto Ricans here in Central Florida.”

He was joined on a bipartisan group of politicians Friday including state Sen. Victor Torres, state Reps. Bob Cortes and Carlos Guillermo Smith and Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez, as all as representatives of state Rep. David Santiago, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. The group was evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

They gathered in the Orange County Commission chambers to hear demographic numbers, stories, concerns, and recommendations from three University of Central Florida professors and one Barry University School of Law professor, with specialties in Puerto Rico history, sociology, politics, and law, and in the diaspora in the United States that now outnumbers Puerto Ricans living on the island. They are Luis Martinez-Fernandez, Enrique Guerra, Fernando Rivera, and Anthony Suarez.

One primary message: help the people here. An estimated 230 people per day are moving from the island to Florida, seeking more stability and better lives, but they’re not necessarily finding it, the panelists said. Many with college degrees and professional or middle class backgrounds in Puerto Rico wind up in blue-collar jobs because they cannot find work to match their backgrounds. Others struggle in Central Florida’s low-wage tourism economy, he said.

In 2000, the U.S. Census found approximately 482,000 Puerto Ricans in Florida. Today that number is over 1 million, and soon the Sunshine State will surpass New York as having the most Puerto Ricans outside the island. And the migration is circular, with people freely moving back and forth between the island, the northeast U.S., and Florida.

“In my humble observation, with so many hundreds of families moving from the island to Puerto Rico every single month, there’s kind of a frustration from so many of the families when they arrive, because they believe they are moving so that they can create a better life for their family and have access to a better-paying job, better benefits,” Smith said. “And the reality is, when they get to Orlando in particular… they are living on starvation wages, they don’t have access to public health benefits, they don’t have access to public transportation, [and] affordable housing is horrific in Orange County.”

The vast majority of Puerto Ricans live in just 10 Florida counties: six in the I-4 corridor from Hillsborough County through Central Florida to Volusia County; the three big counties of South Florida; and Lee County, according to a presentation from Suarez.

The current migration, of about 80,000 people per year, is a “cluster migration” where families are attracting relatives and friends to join them, making areas such as the Orlando-Kissimmee market into huge magnets, Martinez-Fernandez said.

And they’re not voting, said Suarez, president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida. Thirty-four percent of Hispanics are not registered to vote. And 59 percent said they never vote, “which is a shocking number,” Suarez said. “We’ve got to register these people, and there’s a lot of work to be done in that area.”

Nor are they necessarily flexing the kind of power they might have, Martinez-Fernandez said, notwithstanding the fact that Plasencia, Torres, Cortes, Smith, Alvarez, Soto and Santiago all are at least part Puerto Rican. The UCF social scientist said they are underrepresented in Florida’s public boards, civic boards, corporate boardrooms and other leadership posts throughout Florida. He said there is a lack of recognition of the now robust and still growing community.

“How can you get away with spending so many resources, say on the arts venue, and in ten years not have anything devoted to Puerto Ricans or Hispanics?” he inquired. “It’s outrageous. Now if we have those voices, we can make those things happen. One voice is not enough. We need a critical mass. We have a critical mass in population, but we do not have a critical mass in places of power.”

Bob Cortes ‘exploring’ possible congressional run in CD 7

State Rep. Bob Cortes is “exploring” the possibility a run for Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

On Friday morning, Cortes confirmed reports he was in Washington D.C. for a couple of days early this week talking to officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee and others about a possible run in CD 7 in 2018.

If he does run, Cortes would be seeking a seat Republicans held for generations before U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy won it in November.

“I’ve been asked,” to consider such a run, he told FloridaPolitics.com Friday morning.

“I have not made a decision, yes or no,” he added.

Cortes is a two-term state representative and a former Longwood city commissioner who won re-election in November over Democratic attorney Ryan Yadav.

CD 7 was held by Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica for 24 years. But evolving demographics and redistricting made it a younger, more diverse, more partisan-balanced district, now covering virtually all of Seminole County and a much bigger chunk of Orange County, including Maitland, Winter Park, north and central Orlando, and east Orlando including the University of Central Florida region. The young Murphy, who is Vietnamese-American, toppled Mica by appealing to the new mix of voters there.

Republicans vowed to take it back, and there has been talk of several candidates, including state Sen. Dave Simmons, emerging to challenge Murphy in 2018.

Cortes would be able to appeal to much of the coalition Murphy built. He is of Puerto Rican background, and the district now has 80,000 Hispanics, the vast majority of whom are Puerto Rican. He also has shown to be more of a moderate on social issues of interest to the district’s young base. After the Pulse nightclub shooting, Cortes was among the more passionate of Republicans in speaking out for the LGBT community hurting from that tragedy.

“The (CD 7) District itself is almost a spinoff of my district, as far as makeup,” Cortes said. “All of my constituents are in the district, and a huge part of the Hispanic population that I represent is in this district … I can say I am exploring it and we will give it a good hard look.”

Prosecutors: Pulse gunman’s wife helped scout potential targets, including Disney

A federal judge in California declined Wednesday to release the widow of the man who killed 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub after prosecutors said she accompanied her husband on scouting trips for potential targets that included the Disney Springs shopping complex.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu in Oakland said she wanted a psychiatric evaluation done of Noor Salman before deciding whether to release her from jail pending a trial on charges of supporting her husband’s attack and then lying to investigators about it. Salman, 31, has pleaded not guilty.

Federal authorities arrested Salman last month at her mother’s home in suburban San Francisco, where Salman moved with her 4-year-old son after her husband, Omar Mateen, killed 49 and wounded at least 68 others on June 12 at Pulse nightclub.

Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during the attack before police shot and killed him.

Federal prosecutor Sara Sweeney divulged some details of the allegations for the first time while arguing against the release of Salman.

Sweeney said Mateen asked Salman whether attacking the Disney site would have a bigger impact than attacking a nightclub.

Disney declined to go into specifics about its security policies but said in a statement it reviews safety measures frequently.

“We work closely with state and local authorities and constantly review the very rigorous security measures we have in place including canine units and law enforcement officers on site, as well as less-visible systems that employ the latest technologies in security,” said Jacquee Wahler, a Disney World spokeswoman.

During the hearing, Sweeney said that in addition to accompanying her husband on scouting trips, Salman watched him leave their apartment with a gun and a backpack full of ammunition on the night of the shooting.

Authorities say Salman initially said she didn’t know anything about the attack but later told investigators Mateen abused steroids, was “pumped up” on the night of the attack, and said “this is the one day” as he walked out the door, Sweeney said in court.

Sweeney said Salman told investigators that “I knew when he left he was going to commit the attack.”

Sweeney also said the couple ran up $25,000 in credit-card debt and spent $5,000 in cash in the days before the shooting. Among the purchases was an $8,000 diamond ring for Salman. In addition, Mateen and Salman made her the death beneficiary of his bank account.

Salman’s attorney Charles Swift said outside court that Salman made those statements without a lawyer present during an 18-hour interrogation immediately after the attack.

He said he hasn’t received a transcript or recording of Salman’s interrogation to determine the context of her statements and accuracy of the allegations.

Swift also pointed out that Mateen was a security guard and left the couple’s home hundreds of times with a gun and ammunition.

Swift argued that prosecutors were charging Salman with the crimes of her husband. Mateen physically abused Salman, he said, and never told her about his plans to carry out the killings.

It was the first time Salman’s legal team heard details of the allegations as well.

“We frankly expected more,” attorney Linda Moreno said outside court.

Salman’s mother and uncle have pledged to put up their homes as collateral to secure her release from jail pending trial. Federal prosecutors are seeking to transfer Salman to Florida to face the charges, which could bring a sentence of life in prison.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

New Orlando chamber chief Tim Giuliani sees synergy ahead

A new era is starting for the Orlando’s chamber of commerce and Economic Development Commission – fully merged now and awaiting Tim Giuliani as the new leader who says the synergy of the merger should make it more holistic and nimble in promoting business.

The new commerce organization was created from the merger of the Orlando Economic Development Commission and the Central Florida Partnership, which includes the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce. It’ll get its new name about the same time Giuliani starts.

Giuliani, 35, will start in mid-March.

Giuliani said the merger creates the advantage of bringing the two missions – the interests of the existing business community, and the need to reach out to attract new business, together in one plan. He said it also brings more resources and capabilities to efforts to address emerging opportunities or issues.

It’s a similar model to what Giuliani has run in Raleigh, N.C., and Gainesville. The Saint Augustine native who received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State and MBA from the University of Florida became president and chief executive of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and Council for Economic Outreach, and then took on a similar role at the Greater Raleigh’s Chamber of Commerce, which includes Raleigh’s economic development program.

“You get alignment from the business leadership in the community. So everyone is focused on the same sheet of music. everyone is in the room together. That’s a huge advantage instead of having two different areas not looking at the full picture. This way the full economic picture is on the table,” Giuliani said. “And from a staff perspective and organizational perspective, you have your sales team talking to your product-development team.”

In Raleigh, Giuliani was the voice for business in one of the country’s most robust and dynamic high-tech corridors, the Research Triangle created through the shared efforts of North Carolina State in Raleigh, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and Duke University in Durham. Raleigh also is the state capital.

So he knows what it’s like to oversee high-tech commerce.

“One of the most important drivers if not the most important drivers of the decision-making process is talent. Can the company hire the talent they need to stay on the cutting edge, and stay ahead of the game, stay ahead of disruptive technologies. Do they [such employees] want to live in your community?” Giuliani said.

With Duke, NC State and North Carolina, the universities have been gearing their programs, research and commercialization toward the Research Triangle “for decades,” Giuliani said.

The anchor in Central Florida would be the University of Central Florida, which bills itself as America’s partnership university and has been digging deep to establish centers of excellence particularly in lasers and optics and simulation and modeling software, while partnering to try to develop emerging centers in medical research and sensors technologies. Giuliani said he likes what he knows about UCF, and notes UF and other schools also have investments in the region’s tech efforts.

On the other hand, UCF remains a relative modest player in research money, far below what the Research Triangle Universities do. In 2015 UCF conducted about $215 million worth of research, while Duke and North Carolina each did about $1 billion, and NC State did about a half-billion, according to the National Science Foundation. UF and the University of South Florida, which are part of the I-4 research consortium with UCF, did about $740 million and $485 million respectively.

“The thing that enthuses me the most is how much of a priority  this is for UCF, how much pride they take in the patents and commercialization of products,” Giuliani said. “It’s that drive that will continue to get them further and further up the list in research funding.”

“I think the business community can certainly be a champion and advocate for the research institutions so they don’t have to carry all of that water themselves,” he said.

Those high-tech businesses also put high value in quality of life issue, and the economic fundamentals, he said. Is housing affordable? Is there enough to do on the weekends? Are there other things for the employees to do if they chose to leave the company? Is there an eco-system to support growth?

Sure, Orlando has theme parks and beaches nearby, and a top, international airport with direct flights to almost everywhere. But he views the emerging performing arts through the Dr. Phillips Center, transit and other infrastructure, and other developments such as the rising Lake Nona and the planned Creative Village, as completing the picture for attracting 21st century business.

“I know everyone talks about quality of life. I think it’s coming into sharper forces as the economy is driven more and more by the workforce, he said.

Val Demings wants her committee in Congress to oversee ‘The Wall’

As President Donald Trump moves forward on his plans to build a massive, potentially $25 billion wall along the Mexico border, U.S. Rep. Val Demings wants assurance that Congress will have some oversight of the project.

It’s possible that Trump could build the wall through executive order and by cobbling together funds in existing programs without ever going to Congress.

So Wednesday Demings introduced an amendment to the oversight plan of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that could give that committee some control, regardless of how the president wants to do the wall.

Demings, an Orlando Democrat, is a member of that committee. She is also a ranking member on that committee’s Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs.

Her amendment would give the committee control to examine costs associated with construction, maintenance, increased surveillance, environmental effects, and compensation for affected property owners as well as look at the effectiveness and source of funding for the wall.

The amendment would also have given the committee control to examine the contracting and subcontracting process, total cost estimates and expenditures for the project, and the sources of any funding used or reprogrammed for these purposes to ensure that they comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

“The truth of the matter is that no one can tell us exactly how much it will cost taxpayers because we haven’t seen reliable cost estimates, which is why it is imperative that it be included in our Oversight Plan,” Demings stated in a news release issued by her office.

Demings contended that both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are uncomfortable at least with the uncertainties. She’s not a fan of the wall or Trump’s early relationship with Mexico.

“The order and the president’s recent proclamations have sent our foreign relations with Mexico, one of our largest trading partners, into a tailspin,” she stated. “Demanding that Mexico pay for a wall — when it appears ever more likely that the American taxpayer or consumer will pay — appears to be counterproductive and may spark a trade war that will only hurt American businesses and consumers.”

Orlando shooter’s widow seeks jail release pending trial

Lawyers for the widow of the man who carried out a deadly attack at a Florida nightclub are urging a judge to release her from jail pending trial on charges she supported her husband’s terroristic plans.

Noor Salman‘s attorney on Wednesday are expected to argue in an Oakland federal court that the widow is not a threat to public safety or at risk of fleeing. Family members have pledged their homes as collateral.

Salman was arrested in November at her mother’s home in Rodeo, California, a San Francisco suburb. She is charged with helping her husband plan his attack of the Pulse nightclub, where he killed 49 people and wounded 53 others.

Attorney Haitham Amin said prosecutors have yet to turn over to Salman’s legal team much of the evidence they have collected to make their case. Amin and court papers filed Tuesday by Salman’s lead attorney Charles Swift say it appears Salman is charged with being present when her husband was making plans to attack the nightclub.

In particular, Swift cites media accounts reporting that Salman accompanied Mateen on a “scouting trip” in a car to the nightclub in the days before the attack and that she was with her husband when he purchased ammunition at a Walmart near their Fort Pierce home.

Swift wrote “the evidence will show that the purported scouting trip occurred while the family was on their way home from babysitting the children of a relative, that Mateen chose to drive into Orlando and to pass by the Pulse Night Club, and that Noor, who did not possess a driver’s license at the time, was at most a reluctant passenger who wanted to go home.”

Federal authorities arrested Salman in November at her mother’s suburban San Francisco home and charged her with aiding Mateen’s support of the Islamic State and then lying to FBI agents and police investigating the Orlando, Florida nightclub attack.

Salman has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday in Oakland, California.

Salman and Mateen lived with their 3-year-old son in nearby Fort Pierce, Florida before the attack. Salman and her son moved in with an aunt in Mississippi immediately after the attacks before settling with her mother in her hometown of Rodeo, California, about 25 miles east of San Francisco.

Details of the charges remained under seal Tuesday and the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco did not return phone calls from The Associated Press.

Mateen told her he needed the ammo for his job as a security guard when she asked him about buying the ammunition, the court filing said.

“Although Noor may have been present when Mateen was possibly making preparations, mere presence alone is insufficient to establish aiding and abetting,” Swift wrote.

CAIR Florida files federal lawsuit against Donald Trump over immigration ban

Representatives from Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida announced that they were filing a federal lawsuit against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, in response to his executive orders barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country over the weekend.

The lawsuit is filed from 20 plaintiffs, including CAIR Florida Chief Executive Director Hassan Shibly and other activists, lawyers and representatives from civil rights organizations, and it claims Trump’s orders were unconstitutional against both the First and Fifth amendments.

“This is the time that we are truly making America great again by challenging this discriminatory, unjust, oppressive, and illegal policy. We will make America great by making sure that it remains a free and just nation for all people, regardless of their race or religion,” Shibly said.

In Orlando, Rasha Mubarak with CAIR called the orders “discriminatory, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim,” and decried them for trying to “criminalize groups of people in an attempt to galvanize the American people.”

“Tens of thousands have been in the streets and airports, worried which minorities will be persecuted next,” Mubarak said. “CAIR is active in the streets and courts defending justice for all Americans. These executive orders are political theater at expense of our civil liberties and national security he claims he is trying to protect. They are feeding into and even adding recruitment material for the extreme groups overseas and abroad. Trump is in a position to trample over civil liberties jeopardizing and undermining safety for all.”

Mubarak said CAIR was now advising people from Muslim-majority countries to consult immigration attorneys before entering or leaving the United States, in anticipation of any problems with doing so.

Speakers recounted both personal stories and tales of helping people at the Orlando International Airport last weekend during the confusion immediately following the ban. Ida Eskamani, an aide to Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, said her own grandmother, who is 84 years old, has now been prohibited from entering the United States.

Alex Barrio, District Director for Sen. Darren Soto, recalled an Iranian UCF student going for a PhD who has been barred from returning due to the executive order.

Other speakers, like Isabel Vinent with the Florida Immigrant Coalition, blasted the United States’ foreign policy even before Trump.

“The fact that we can bomb countries, create chaos and then lock them up and prevent them from coming in is not foreign policy,” she said. “It’s a horror movie.”

Though the ban is only for 90 days so far, Mubarak said it didn’t matter how long it was – it was still discriminatory.

“Regardless if its two hours or one week or a year, it’s offensive and insulting and separating families, it sends an insulting message, a violent message,” she said. “It gives bigotry a green light to cause harm on anyone that looks like they identify as a Muslim.”

1,000 gather at Orlando airport to protest Donald Trump’s immigrant ban

A peaceful march through Orlando International Airport Sunday afternoon involving as many as 1,000 people protested President Donald Trump‘s ban on Islamic refugees and individuals from seven Islamic countries.

Chanting things such as “Islamaphobia has got to go!” “Refugees are welcome here!” and”This is what America looks like!” the protesters poured in from a gathering site in one of the main terminal’s parking garages and then swelled into a mass protest inside the terminal, near the central food court.

After about 20 minutes there, waving signs and growing to become too large for the area, the crowd moved to one end of the terminal complex near the gates, continued for another 20 minutes there, and then departed peacefully.

The demonstration was one of many that took place at airports across the country, but may have been one of the biggest. It was organized mostly through social media, in less than 24 hours.

One of the organizers, Ida Vishkaee Eskamani, a veteran progressive grassroots organizer in Central Florida who also is a legislative aide to state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, said Orlando made her proud, again.

“The demonstration today shows the world that Orlando is a community that stands with its Muslim and immigrants and refugee communities,” said Eskamani, whose family immigrated from Iran, one of the affected families, and who still has family there, including a grandmother whose annual visits are now in jeopardy. “And we take a lot of pride in that.”

There were no incidents, no arrests, and no disruptions of any airport activities from the rally, according to Carolyn Fennell, senior director of public affairs and community relations for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

There was a significant police presence. The protest organizers contacted the airport in advance though they did not seek a permit. Scores of Orlando police officers held points on the perimeter, mainly trying to keep corridors open for airline passengers and others to pass. The most contentious exchanges seemed to be along the lines of when officers politely asked protesters to step forward a bit to allow a particular cluster of passengers to get by, and the protesters respectfully did so.

“There were no flight delays or delays at the security checkpoints. Parking was not impacted,” Fennell stated.

And this was a first. In 35 years, Orlando International Airport had never before hosted a protest, not including the occasional union picket, said Executive Director Phil Brown. So the airport has no formal policies, except that the protesters were welcome in public access areas as long as they did not disrupt anyone else’s access to to the areas.

Smith, an Orlando Democrat who joined the protest, said the peaceful nature “is what this is all about. This type of peaceful resistance is patriotic. This is what people should be doing, resisting the illegal and unconstitutional orders from Donald Trump.”

Late Friday afternoon, Trump signed an executive order banning all refugees from entering the United States and forbidding entry to any people from seven Islamic countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Until a federal judge stayed the order late Saturday, it had forced airports to detain numerous people who already were flying in when Trump signed the order.

None of the seven countries have direct flights to Orlando International. So there was no immediate direct impact in Orlando, as had been seen at New York’s Kennedy International Airport and elsewhere, where incoming passengers were detained.

As many as 1,000 gather at Orlando airport to protest Donald Trump’s immigrant ban

A peaceful march through Orlando International Airport Sunday afternoon involving as many as 1,000 people protested President Donald Trump‘s ban on refugees and people from seven Islamic countries Sunday afternoon.

Chanting things such as “Islamaphobia has got to go!” “Refugees are welcome here!” and”This is what America looks like!” the protesters poured in from a gathering site in one of the main terminal’s parking garages and then swelled into a mass protest inside the terminal, near the main food court.

After about 20 minutes there, waiving signs and growing in size to become too large for the area, the crowd moved to one end of the terminal complex near the gates, continued for another 20 minutes there, and then departed peacefully.

The demonstration was one of many that took place at airports across the country Sunday, but may have been one of the biggest. It was organized mostly through social media, in less than 24 hours.

One of the organizers, Ida Vishkaee Eskamani, a veteran progressive grassroots organizer in Central Florida who also is a legislative aide to state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, said Orlando made her proud, again.

“The demonstration today shows the world that Orlando is a community that stands with its Muslim and immigrants and refugee communities,” said Eskamani, whose family immigrated from Iran, one of the affected families, and who still has family there, including a grandmother whose annual visits are now in jeopardy. “And we take a lot of pride in that.”

There were no incidents, no arrests, and no disruptions of any airport activities from the rally, according to Carolyn Fennell, senior director of public affairs and community relations for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

There was a significant police presence. The protest organizers contacted the airport in advance though they did not seek a permit. Scores of Orlando police officers held points on the perimeter, mainly seeking to keep corridors open for airline passengers and others to get by. The most contentious exchanges seemed to be along the lines of when officers politely asked protesters to step forward a bit to allow a particular cluster of passengers to get by, and the protesters respectfully did so.

“There were no flight delays or delays at the security checkpoints. Parking was not impacted,” Fennell stated.

And this was a first. In 35 years, Orlando International Airport had never before hosted a protest, not including the occasional union picket, said Executive Director Phil Brown. So the airport has no formal policies, except that the protesters were welcome in public access areas so long as they did not disrupt anyone else’s access to to the areas.

Smith, an Orlando Democrat who joined the protest, said the peaceful nature “is what this is all about. This type of peaceful resistance is patriotic. This is what people should be doing, resisting the illegal and unconstitutional orders from Donald Trump.”

Late Friday afternoon, Trump signed an executive order banning all refugees from entering the United States and forbidding entry to any people from seven Islamic countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Until a federal judge stayed the order late Saturday, it had forced airports to detain numerous people who already were flying in when Trump signed the order.

None  of the seven countries has any direct flights into Orlando International.

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