KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Harry Lopez has done some things in his life he's not proud of.
What You Need To Know
- The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is bringing info and assistance to felons via a tour bus
- The bus stopped in Kissimmee on Sunday and continues on to Miami and Fort Myers this week
- The FRRC offers voter registration information, free COVID-19 testing, and food at the bus
- RELATED: Florida rights restoration group to Orlando: Get vaccinated, get voting
“I want to vote, but the charge that I have restricts me, and will restrict me for the rest of my life,” Lopez said.
But he doesn’t want his past to define who he is now.
“I think I have a lot of positivity since I was released,” he said.
That's why he was in Kissimmee on Sunday to visit the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition's Free The Vote tour bus.
The group's bus provides voter registration information, COVID-19 testing, food, and had a bounce house for kids.
Members with the FRRC said they want to not only restore former felons’ rights but also the dignity of these returning citizens. The organization is celebrating April as “second chance month.”
Marquis McKenzie, FRRC's chapter development and training manager, said he lost his voting rights before he even had them. At 15 years old, he was taken out of the juvenile system and charged as an adult, he said.
“One of the biggest issues that we’re fighting for and advocating for is housing. If you have a felony conviction on your record, it's hard for you to even rent,” McKenzie said. “So there are more things that continue to block people, and we want to make sure we are on the front line and also educate the community on how they can help us be able to make those things happen.”
FRRC paid for Lopez’s court fines and fees, but his voting and civil rights won’t be restored until his probation is over.
Lopez said he is grateful someone has faith in him.
“You know, I am out here and I can still continue with them,” he said. “Whoever stops me on the street or I run into someone, I explain to them that FRRC is here. This is what we are about.”
The Free The Vote tour bus is trying to reach as many Florida cities as possible. Its next stop is Miami on Tuesday and Fort Myers on Saturday.