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Pastors from Tallahassee Black churches protest the DeSantis administration's COVID response

 Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Pastor R.B. Holmes stands at the rostrum in his church's sanctuary, flanked by the leaders of several other Black churches in Tallahassee.
Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Pastor R.B. Holmes stands at the rostrum in his church's sanctuary, flanked by the leaders of several other Black churches in Tallahassee.

Among their objections: the Department of Education's move to withold the salaries of school boards that impose school mask mandates

Nearly a dozen pastors from Tallahassee Black churches are upset with the DeSantis administration's COVID pandemic response. They held a Tuesday news conference at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church to air their concerns.

Pastor Gregory James was among those demanding that local elected officials, such as school boards, be able to respond to the virus as they see fit without state government interference.

"To understand elected officials who serve our children as school board members who are fighting to do what they've been called to do and to have to deal with leadership that don't respect and understand their passion, we can't be silenced," he said.

School board members, such as Leon County's Darryl Jones, were stripped of their pay by the state Department of Education as a fine for imposing mask mandates in district schools.

"We take a solemn vow and an oath to protect our children and teachers. And no amount of money will cause any of us - including myself - to compromise that responsibility," Jones commented.

The pastors also objected to the upcoming special session called by DeSantis to outlaw mask and vaccine mandates along with the refusal of Florida Surgeon General nominee Joseph Lapado to wear a mask during a meeting with state Sen. Tina Polsky who's battling cancer.

R.B. Holmes, pastor of historic Bethel Missionary Baptist, said he'd long been a registered Republican, but had now decided to register as an independent.

"This Republican Party as we know it is not the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln. It is not the Republican Party of Frederick Douglass. It is not the Republican Party of the late, great Colin Powell."

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