The Florida data analyst who claims she was fired because she wouldn’t doctor state coronavirus data tweeted Saturday she was turning herself into police — though it’s unclear exactly why.
“To protect my family from continued police violence, and to show that I’m ready to fight whatever they throw at me, I’m turning myself into police in Florida Sunday night,” Rebekah Jones said in a tweet. “The Governor will not win his war on science and free speech. He will not silence those who speak out.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed it has an active arrest warrant for Jones. Spokeswoman Jessica Cary could not provide details about any charges against Jones before she was booked.
Jones lost her job in May after creating a widely-praised state dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases, deaths, testing and other data. She claimed she was fired because she refused to manipulate data to support the state’s plans to ease lockdown restrictions.
In December, Florida authorities served a search warrant at her home — in a raid she claims included pointing a gun at her children.
Law enforcement officers execute a search warrant at Rebekah Jones’ home in Tallahassee, Florida on December 7, 2020.Florida Department of Law Enforcement/REUTERS
At the time of the raid, authorities said Jones was being investigated for hacking a government messaging system after an odd alert was sent out. It’s unclear if that is the charge she will be hit with.
“It’s time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late,” the alert read.
Jones insisted in her tweets that law enforcement “found no evidence of a message sent last Nov. [sic] to DOH staff telling them to ‘speak out’ on any of the devices they took” from her home. She previously claimed she never had access to the alert system.
She said she is turning herself in because the raid did uncover some documents she received or downloaded.
“It isn’t clear at this point what exactly they’re saying I had that I shouldn’t have had, but an agent confirmed it has nothing to do with the subject of the warrant,” she tweeted, adding the raid was “based on a lie.”
A warrant for her arrest was issued the day after a judge told police to return her equipment if no crime was under investigation, Jones claimed. “They didn’t find proof of anything related to the warrant, so they invented something new to come after me for in retaliation.”
She said an agent told her there would be one charge, but if she spoke out she might see more added. “All of this just to silence a critic of a governor who failed to do his job and got thousands killed as a result.”
“Saying goodbye to my family just now is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Jones said in the last tweet she posted.