I wanted to write something cool and coherent, educational even, about Rebekah Jones and her history as the architect and manager of Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard, and what happened to her yesterday. But that is not the post that I felt compelled—or even able—to write.
A nightmare actualized
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, Washington
Jones was fired in May from her job as Geographic Information Systems manager. According to her, she was fired because of her refusal to manipulate data. Yesterday, Florida law enforcement agents entered “her house with weapons drawn as they carried out a warrant as part of an investigation into an unauthorized message that was sent on a state communications system.”
Last night, Jones was a guest on Chris Cuomo’s show. She must have a security camera set up in her home because the footage she shared is sharp and stable, and the sound is equally clear. You can hear almost every word shouted by the uniformed men who came through her front door wielding guns, one pointing his up the stairs, bellowing at her husband to come down and get out of the house. You can hear Jones screaming, “He just pointed a gun at my children!”
As I stood in my kitchen watching this footage, I started shaking. I grew up with nightmares about large jackbooted men suddenly storming my home. They could come at any time. You never knew when they might show up. The unbreakable connection to my never-known grandmother runs through this nightmare. She and my grandfather lived in their apartment in Berlin until January 12, 1943, two days before my grandmother’s 55th birthday. On that day, they were sent to Auschwitz. There is no more known about how their lives ended, though much can be imagined.
I’ve also never known how my grandparents were rounded up and taken away. They might have received a notice to pack a suitcase and report to a certain place in the city. Or did uniformed men bang suddenly on the door, perhaps in the dark of the night, perhaps on a cold and rainy afternoon, filling the space with their large bodies and loud voices, demanding that that their orders be followed?
The night Trump was elected, I felt that I suddenly popped into my grandmother’s reality. That unbreakable connection to her told me that we were all in a kind of danger that had been almost unthinkable in this country before. Watching the actualization of my nightmare on TV now is almost unbearable.
We are not out of danger yet. Trump and the majority of the Republican party are doing their best to dismantle democracy. Two hundred and twenty members of Congress aren’t willing to acknowledge that Joe Biden is our president-elect.
As I’m writing this, a Florida GOP appointee, Ron Filipowski, is on with Chris C. Today, he quit his job over the raid of Rebekah Jones’s home. “Their intention is not only to intimidate Ms. Jones,” he said to Cuomo. “They also want to intimidate current employees.”
Joe Biden is terrifyingly correct when he says we are in a fight for the soul of the nation.