Orlando police arrested 10 community activists who refused to leave a sit-in in Sen. Marco Rubio’s Orlando office. The activists chose to stay in the building after police told them to leave by 7 p.m. so they could protest Rubio's stance on LGBT issues and gun control.
At 10 a.m. on Monday, more than 50 activists affiliated with groups such as Equality Florida, Planned Parenthood, Team Watermark and Organize Now entered Rubio's office to stage the protest. LGBT Latino activists set up memorials for the victims of the Pulse Night Club Shooting and read their names out loud.
Activists intended to stay inside the building for 49 hours, but also planned to protest outside of the office if they were removed from the building. The Orlando Police Department arrived at 5 p.m., two hours before the building is supposed to close for the night.
Yulissa Arce, a Latina community organizer participating in the sit-in, said she is participating because she believes Rubio does not work to help the Latino or LGBT communities.
“Marco Rubio does not represent this community,” Arce said.
Arce said Rubio’s views on equal rights for LGBTQ people, such as his opposition to North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” and same-sex marriage, and also his stance on resistance to gun-control legislation do not coincide with Orlando’s Latino population — especially after the Pulse Night Club Shooting that killed 49 people.
“We are here because we are saying that we want a ban on assault rifles, military-grade guns and high-capactiy magazines,” Arce said. “We want to make it clear that these guns are too easy to get, especially here in Florida. We are here for the communities — typically those of color — that have disproportionately battled gun violence for decades.”
A Rubio spokesperson gave a statement to NBC Latino, saying he respects the protesters' views and welcomes input from "people across the political spectrum."
"Senator Rubio and our office continue working around the clock on federal casework to assist victims' families, survivors and their families, and we stand ready to continue assisting, including lending staff to the victim assistance center as we did for the last few weeks," the statement reads. "Over the past month, Senator Rubio has supported common sense compromises to make it easier to track individuals who have been on the terror watch list and later try to buy firearms, all while improving due process protections for law abiding Americans."