We had an idea Tampa Bay was cool. But when we heard the Republican National Convention was going to be held right in our back yard, we knew the January 23rd Republican Debate would be history in the making. Santorum, Gingrich, Ron Paul and of course Mitt Romney promised they’d come visit so we had to welcome them as best we could. And how could we not show gratitude at being denied access to our very own building?
“I am a USF student. The Republican Debate is on my campus. But I can’t attend? WTF?” read one SDS sign. “Get your laws out of my uterus!” read another.
Assembling, taking names, making signs, holding interviews Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society promptly met. Our announced time of assembling was 6:30pm outside of the Allen & Grace Building on USF’s campus. Occupy Tampa, Occupy USF, SDS members from Tampa & Gainesville, SLAP and Fight Back Florida members from St. Petersburg & Orlando in addition to various union members were pissed and ready to show the Republicans their claws via bullhorns.
“I met a young couple who didn’t know much about how to continue being involved”, says Tampa Bay SDS activist, organizer Denise Wilkinson, “But they joined in with us to protest anyway! By the end of our march, I was able to sign them up with the Coalition to March on the RNC.”
“What about gay rights and rights for the arts!” shouted Kat Reynolds and Sean McDonald, (current USF students) during a speech. We support those rights too! And Gainesville SDS member Cassia Laham made sure to include, “Our lesbian, gay and or transgender brothers and sisters” into her speech about demanding overall a fair and just representation by anyone running for office.
Truth is: there was a lot going on. Our particular action included over 300 students–all with the same disdain towards the conservative agenda. But there were so many more people present that fateful USF day. Including our newly relocated Terry Jones and his supporters/followers. These particular protesters carried racist signs against our current president Obama and against “illegal immigrants”.
January 23rd was only a little taste of what will be coming to Tampa on August 27th.
And we can’t wait.