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Nancy Smith

Aramis Ayala's Hundreds-Strong Supporting Cast to Hit the Capitol

March 29, 2017 - 5:45pm

Aramis Ayala, who probably 90 percent of Florida had never heard of before March, may wind up as one of the 2017 legislative session's most prominent figures. Indirectly, anyway.

At 12:30 p.m. Thursday the ‘Ride for Aramis,’ a several-hundred-strong rally of support for the Orange-Osceola state attorney, will culminate at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Organizers say buses are coming in from Pensacola, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Jacksonville and Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

Speakers during the rally are expected to include Florida civil rights activists, faith leaders, legislators, a murder victim’s family member, and a death row exonoree, among others.

Newly elected Ayala, first African-American to hold the position of state attorney in the Sunshine State, rose to prominence by publicly refusing to impose the death penalty in the case of two particularly cold-blooded murders.

In fact, refusing to impose the death penalty ever. 

It's an odd position for a state attorney, to be sure. And one Gov. Rick Scott neither shares nor appreciates in a state that allows capital punishment. After Ayala refused to recuse herself, Scott replaced Ayala as prosecutor in the state's high-profile case against Markeith Loyd, accused of shooting to death his pregnant girlfriend and an off-duty police officer.

Scott seemed to take Ayala's refusal to back off the case as a personal effrontery.

I Beg to Differ

During the first week of March the Legislature passed SB 280, which requires juries to vote unanimously in favor of a death sentence. Scott had only just signed the bill into law -- giving prosecutors across the state the green light to pursue new death cases -- when Ayala basically announced the law would never apply to her.

Now we have a state attorney -- not appointed by the governor but duly elected by the people of her district -- told by Gov. Rick Scott to stand down in the case.

And we have Orange County Judge Frederick Lauten denying Ayala's motion last week to be reinstated as the prosecutor in the Loyd murder case.

Ayala's critics say she never disclosed to voters that she was against capital punishment when she ran for election in 2016. But her supporters counter with -- well, nobody ever specifically asked her.

The point is, Ayala has said she won't step down, will appeal the judge's decision, and has a plan to go on as far as she needs to go.

That puts Scott where he doesn't much want to be. He's now uncomfortably in the middle of a kerfuffle with racial overtones and has an image problem he hadn't reckoned on as he goes into the 2018 U.S. Senate race.

On top of that, lawmakers are choosing sides -- mostly along party lines. Many say racial tension is higher than it's been for a while at the Capitol. And now here comes Thursday's rally -- unlikely to calm roiled waters.

Incidentally, sponsors of the ‘Ride for Aramis’ include the NAACP, Latino Justice, Florida Council of Churches, Orange County Black Voice, Let Your Voice Be Heard Orlando, Color of Change, the 8th Amendment Project, and Equal Justice USA.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith


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As my grandmother always said TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE RIGHT.....killing someone if they killed don't make it many innocent have been executed under this death penalty....good for her ....She can be the next Rosa Parks standing for Justice

If she did not want to apply the punishments that the State Of Florida deems appropriate for murder, she should not have taken the job in the first place. Just a huge blunder on her part. I would not like to give out speeding tickets to my fellow citizens, therefore, I choose not to take a job as a cop. I cannot stand the sight of blood even though I like steak, therefore I choose to NOT become a butcher! See how easy this is? These are basic observations that even a child understands.

How can we come together if it is always about race instead of the substance of the issue?

She is a disgrace, regardless of her race.

At this "rally" in Tallahassee, how many comments will be about the unselfish law enforcement officer and pregnant woman carrying an innocent child that were executed & murdered in cold blood by a heinous criminal cop-killing criminal defendant? That state attorney in Orlando is violating her Oath of office. Would the participants at this "rally" on Capitol grounds at Tallahassee be "rallying" for aramis ayala if it were their own friends and family members (including unborn child) gunned down and the top prosecutor, aramis ayala, refused to punish the murderer to full extent allowed by Florida law?

The victim's families in this case support her position to not pursue the death penalty, so I'm not sure why you care so much about it.

I voted for Scott twice and held my nose both times. I detest Enterprise Florida and think Rick lucky he was not prosecuted for fraud. But not as much as I detest this obnoxious female prosecutor that is legislating from the bench. Does Scott have the power to fire her? Do that and he has my vote for Senate. Truth be known, if he runs against Nelson, I would hold my nose and vote for him again anyway. But I wouldn't have to hold it as hard.

So, as I read this, THURSDAY... work day for most, hopefully a hundred SQUEAKY wheels will listen to a couple of RACE BAITERS and AGITATORS do what they do. The topic of insubordination and misdirected, selfish arrogance won't come up. Felons as spouses never trump Laws and Job Descriptions. This weakling learned nothing from all the Freddie Gray lawsuits ole Mosley is getting her clock cleaned with.

99.999% of Florida is NOT familiar with Aramis Ayala, BUT we are ALL CERTAINLY familiar with her obfuscating, obstructionist, out of control, ilk ! ! ! She's just one more "Darling" of the "paid activist Bus-trip group". "Firing" the "perfume named" thwarter was the RIGHT thing to do... she's no "Rosa Parks" no matter HOW YOU "WRAP" HER,... she's merely an "out of control, rabble-rousing employee".

Debra Clayton! Can we please remember her name and make her the story - NOT a politician. Debra Clayton is the community activist and police officer who dedicated her life to bringing the Orlando community together. Unlike the politician State Attorney, Ms. Clayton, who lost her life while protecting the community, did not impose on the community ideas that went beyond her authority. Ms. Ayala needs to simply recuse herself of cases that involve capital punishment if she is personally opposed to the death penalty. There are plenty of other cases - like 99.9% of them - that will come before her that she can handle that don't involve the death penalty. Please, Ms. Ayala, follow in the footsteps of Debra Clayton, do what you can to unite our community, not tear it apart. We have enough anger, enough division and enough of politicians like you who are trying to make a name for themselves to further their own cause. Instead, seek justice for Debra Clayton and her family. Debra Clayton. Debra Clayton. Debra Clayton.

Debra Clayton's family supports not seeking the death penalty in this case.

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nancy smith

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