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happening in Florida

Police raid home of fired Florida data scientist who challenged state government on COVID-19 numbers

Rebekah Jones, a former Florida Department of Health data scientist who says she was fired for refusing to manipulate data, tweeted on Monday evening that her home was raided by state police officers.

Jones created Florida's COVID-19 dashboard, and after leaving the Department of Health, launched her own dashboard. On Twitter, Jones said agents arrived at her Tallahassee home on Monday morning with a warrant and seized "all my hardware and tech." They "pointed a gun in my face," she said, and "took my phone and computer I use every day to post the case numbers in Florida, and school cases for the entire county. They took evidence of corruption at the state level. They claimed it was about a security breach. This was [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis. He sent the gestapo."

Jones, who also shared a video clip showing agents entering her home, said she was targeted for trying to do her job "honestly." After she was terminated in May, Jones said it was because she would not change COVID-19 dashboard data to put Florida in a favorable light. State officials allege she was fired for insubordination; her discharge paperwork does not list why Jones was terminated.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger released a statement to the Tallahassee Democrat, confirming that computer equipment was seized from Jones' home. Plessinger said law enforcement received a complaint from the Department of Health on Nov. 10 "regarding unauthorized access to a Department of Health messaging system which is part of an emergency alert system, to be used for emergencies only."

Last month, the Department of Health said its emergency communications channel was hacked and an unauthorized email was sent to employees. Jones denied being involved, telling a reporter she is not a hacker and doesn't "know how to do that stuff." Catherine Garcia