As a parent, I’ve been living in a nightmare the last eight months.
A week after filing my whistleblower lawsuit against the state, police came to my home to ask my son about memes he sent to his friends on snapchat.
I recorded the interactions on my home security cameras. The police said it sounded like “teenager stuff” and weren’t concerned.
Then the state intervened. They decided to charge my son with felony threats of terrorism, claiming the memes were tantamount to threatening to shoot up his school (he was enrolled in virtual school).
DeSantis’ press offices - both the Executive Office of Governor and his campaign– received exclusive access to my son’s records, which they leaked through their online surrogates.
For months, they’ve harassed us, stalked us, lied about us, pushed conspiracy theories, and used the power of the Office of the Governor to retaliate against my son.
Since I have whistleblower protection, the state can’t touch me. That protection doesn’t extend to my family.
It’s a violation of law for Jeremy Redfern and Taryn Fenske to take any retaliatory action against me, as they’re both employees of the state. They don’t care, and have continued to retaliate against me for years despite the legal risks.
The state tried and failed to go after me. Within months of failing to throw me in jail, and a week after filing our lawsuit against them, they went after my 13-year-old son.
On Tuesday, I feared the worst. After negotiating a plea to misdemeanor “disturbing the peace” for sharing the memes, higher-ups stepped in and said they wanted to go to trial Friday.
I called everyone I knew, posted widely, and called out for help.
Today, thanks to the Alex Saiz of the Florida Justice Center and everyone who voiced their outrage, my son is free and walks away with no conviction and no guilty plea.
This week has been traumatic for all of us.
My son is finally safe, and free from retaliation by Florida. He will never have to step foot in that state again.
But that doesn't mean his pain has stopped. Nothing can undo what they've done to him or the rest of my family.
There is no justice in America if what happened to me and my family goes unpunished.
With his permission, I wanted to share some of the messages I found in his snapchat during this ordeal.
I want people to know the impact these people have had on my child, who was just 10 years old when this started in 2020.
"I've had every waking moment be filled with an indescribable feeling of hatred, dread and agony. I used to sleep on my parents bedroom floor for months bc of trauma and thinking I was going to die. Sometimes nothing helps.”
He spoke often about his depression, feeling suicidal, being afraid and traumatized because of the raid DeSantis ordered on our home in December 2020, because of the death threats authorities never prosecuted, because of the grown man following, photographing and bullying him online (who Matt Gaetz later hired and helped get citizenship).
He had nightmares that terrified him so much he would set an alarm to wake up once an hour to keep him from dreaming.
He often lamented that we still lived in Florida, and how he dreamed about moving up north where it would be safe.
He said he had, “a constant feeling of emptiness and dread.”
It breaks my heart to know my son wanted to die because of what these people did to him. I can’t describe the pain in reading some of these messages. I knew my son was hurting, but I didn’t know how badly.
We’ve kept so much of our suffering private in a failed effort to protect our family.
Everyone should know what these people are capable of, what they’re willing to do to young children, and how dangerous they are.
They are monsters.