November 2016, The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Skye Schmelzer as the second Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow of the 2016-17 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the New Jersey Devils. Schmelzer, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate $25,000 to the USF Foundation and receive a scholarship grant of $25,000 to assist in her educational pursuits.
Skye Schmelzer suffered through many nights of uncertainty as a homeless teenager in high school. In need of help, Schmelzer applied and was accepted into a local nonprofit, Starting Right Now (SRN). SRN presented the importance of community and honesty to replace feelings of uncertainty with strength and determination. Through these lessons, Schmelzer felt a realization that it was her turn to better humanity, one person at a time, and offer her assistance to those in need. The desire to help others led to working with the founders of Tampa Bay Street Medicine (TBSM), an organization that provides health care to Tampa's poor and homeless.
Trayvon Martin rally
Over 200 students, community activists and supporters rallied and marched from the University of Florida campus to the downtown FBI office on March 26, demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.
Protesters gathered in the blazing sun near Turlington Plaza on the University of Florida campus to begin the event and listen to speakers demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.
Speaking about the racism and oppression faced by African-Americans, Chief Steward Jose Soto of Graduate Assistants United said, “We are not one nation as our pledge suggests. We are many nations. We gather here today, just as we rallied for Kofi Adu-Brempong two years ago this month, to demand justice and self-determination for African American people.”
Despite the intense hostility and best efforts of local law enforcement, the 200-strong chain of people stormed onto University Avenue, blocking an entire lane of traffic. Cops shouted at the protesters to get back onto the sidewalk, but the angry crowd ignored them. At one point, two police cars tried to block the road by turning sideways in front of the march, but Gainesville Area Students for a Democratic Society member Conor Monroe bravely jumped out to keep the road from being closed.
After the mile-long march was over, the crowd arrived at the foot of the FBI Field Office in Gainesville. The main doors into the building were locked, but members of Gainesville Area SDS found a secondary entrance. A ten-person delegation made their way upstairs to the FBI Field Office, which was located inside a Wells Fargo bank. Meanwhile, the crowd chanted, “No justice, no peace, no racist police” outside.
Inside the FBI Field Office, the delegation demanded a meeting with a member of the FBI. FBI officials demanded that the delegation leave the building and claimed that the police were on their way. “The police followed us here as we marched in the streets, and they're standing around outside, what do you mean they're on their way? We want a meeting to present our demands to the FBI,” Students for a Democratic Society member Cassia Laham shouted back.
People’s Agenda march
August 27, 2012, well over 1,000 people rallied and marched in the streets of Tampa to demand good jobs, affordable education, healthcare, equality, and peace. Although the Republicans cancelled the first day of their convention due to Hurricane Isaac, organizers with the Coalition to March on the RNC went through with their promise to march on the first day of the convention to show their opposition to the agenda of the 1% and their support for a People’s Agenda.
Notable speakers included Carlos Montes, a leading immigrants’ rights leader; Joe Iosbaker; a spokesperson for the anti-war movement; Skye Schmelzer, representative of the National Students for a Democratic Society; Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Code Pink and major peace activist; Ciara Taylor, a representative of Dream Defenders and a Black community organizer; Nelini Stamp, one of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street; and Oscar Otzoy, a Florida farm worker organizer with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Organizations present included Students for a Democratic Society, Veterans for Peace, Southern California Immigrant Coalition, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, five Florida Occupy chapters, six Fight Back Florida chapters, Dream Defenders, United National Anti-war Coalition, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, International Action Center, Code Pink, four Florida AFL-CIO labor councils, and Region 3 of AFSCME Council 79.
Organizer Fern Figueroa stated: “Today we took a stand with more than 1,000 people against the Republicans and their agenda of hatred, poverty, and war. Today we stand up for all the good things people need and strike a blow against those who deprive us that.”
7th Annual SDS National Convention, 2012
According to Michela Martinazzi, 70 student activists from all over the country arrived in Gainesville, Florida to attend the annual Students for a Democratic Society National Convention Oct. 27-28, 2012. The activists arrived from as far as Utah and Minnesota.
Stephanie Taylor, a national leader of SDS, reported, “It was awesome. SDS continues to be the largest anti-war student group, to organize for education rights, and there is a growing trend of struggle supporting women’s and LGBTQ issues. SDS invited the Dream Defenders who spoke about immigrant rights, justice for Trayvon Martin and exposing the Republican Party’s voter suppression in Florida. A Gainesville member of Students for Justice in Palestine spoke about boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel.”
- [http://www.fightbacknews.org/2012/3/27/gainesville-florida-sds-marches-trayvon-martin FightBack News, Gainesville Florida SDS Marches for Trayvon Martin By Fernando Figueroa | March 27, 2012]
- [http://wibailoutpeople.org/2012/08/27/coalition-to-march-on-the-rnc-more-than-a-thousand-rally-in-face-of-storm/Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement Coalition to March on the RNC: More Than a Thousand Rally in Face of Storm Posted on August 27, 2012 For immediate release August 27, 2012]