Protesting Charlie Kirk
March 10 2020 FSU was the first stop for Charlie Kirk’s “Culture War Tour” sponsored by Turning Point USA (TPUSA). “FSUnite Against Kirk” was born in response to this event, a self-described student coalition dedicated to spreading a message of love and acceptance in the wake of Kirk’s purposefully divisive rhetoric.
A group of students of all walks of life attended, including six speakers representing different student organizations; Ellie Cooper, president of JStreet U; Alyssa Ackbar, State Director for Florida March for Our Lives; Sadie Cosgrove, member of College Democrats and Gender Odyssey; Delilah Pierre, graduate and organizer with the Tallahassee Community Action Committee and Students for a Democratic Society; and Isabela Casanova, vice president of Students for a Democratic Society.
Students engaged in chants such as “The students united can never be defeated!” and “Say yes to love! Say no to hate!” and waved signs with similar messages.
Organizer Chloe Ilcus also helped draft a petition that was distributed at the event urging FSU’s President John Thrasher and administration to release a statement addressing Kirk’s visit to campus.
Attendees also signed a petition by SDS aimed at bringing a more concrete accountability process for sexual abusers and rapists on FSU campus. SDS will lead a coalition of students, campus groups, area residents and community organizations in a march from campus to the state capitol on Saturday, April 11.
International Women’s Day, Tallahassee
Regina Joseph of the FRSO and president of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) shared a short video on the history of the day and facilitated a panel of five leaders representing over ten active local organizations.
The panelists were all people of color, ranging in age from 20 to 55: Valentina Beron, FSU student and organizer with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Veg FSU; Delilah Pierre, FSU graduate, member of Gender Odyssey, TCAC’s Outreach Coordinator, and Poet leading the Tallahassee Writers Collective; Marie Rattigan, FAMU graduate, Students for Bernie organizer, and Dream Defenders Coordinator; Katherine Draken, FSU graduate, UPS Teamster, and member of TCAC; and Paula Hill, local Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) Chapter Leader, Returning Citizen, New Black Panther, and great-grandmother.
Each panelist shared their personal and organizational history of organized resistance - local, statewide, and national, and spoke on a range of questions and ideas, including how to combat racism, sexism and other bigotries within activist spaces.
“You gotta check those homophobic and transphobic comments [that you hear] in your spaces... and study! You gotta read!” Delilah Pierre asserted.
Survivors told their stories of being assaulted on campus and SDS not only took them seriously but made it their campaign for the whole year. As Beron listed the organizations co-sponsoring to organize a march in April on the topic, Dream Defenders’ Marie Rattigan spoke up to add Dream Defenders to the list. That was the first of a burst of support, cooperation and solidarity to result from the International Women’s Day event. Campus organizers for Bernie Sanders’ campaign from FSU and FAMU enjoyed first contact with one another and pledged mutual support and cooperation; FRRC Chapter Leader Paula Hill assured everyone in the room, “If you’re a woman, gay, transgender, whoever you are, however you present, if you’re out with me, you’ve got protection!”; and all in attendance were invited to an upcoming public hearing on a locally researched and LGBTQIA+ composed Ordinance to Ban Conversion Therapy in Tallahassee.