- Studies Political Science/International Affairs at Florida State University.
SDS Panel: Community Control of FSUPD
SDS Panel: Disarmament of & Community Control of FSUPD - Tallahassee Students for a Democratic Society October 7, 2020.
Armed with a megaphone and signs, the Tallahassee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) marched along the Integration Statue on Tuesday, Jan. 14 2020. In an effort to raise awareness about the Trump administration’s recent armed conflicts in Iran, members passed out fliers that specified the National SDS’s statement on the US’s actions in the middle east.
“Right now, it's most likely not going to lead to war, and that is what we're hoping for, at least on our part,” SDS member Valentina Beron said. “I think that it was strategic, I think it was possibly for Trump getting reelected, [and] to build another big nationalist rally around the flag movement.”
“I think we've seen stuff like this happen before and places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and other countries that just so happened to have large quantities of raw materials that the US is interested in,” SDS Vice President Isabela Casanova said.
“There was no reason for us to engage in a military conflict that is just going to end up hurting every one of us,” member Delilah Pierre said. “I think that Trump also is doing this because he knows that a country under war is more beneficial for him. It'll give him more votes, give him more attention, give him more media. I think very much that Trump is using this war for his own personal ascendance.”
Zachary Schultz July 5, 2020 Tallahassee, FL - On July 4, over 70 students protested in front of the Westcott administration building at Florida State University to demand the removal of the statue of Francis Eppes, a large Leon County slave-owner who had funded the Confederacy. The protest was called by Tallahassee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), who also issued demands for the removal of Eppes from the criminology building and segregationist Doak Campbell from the stadium.
“Taking down the statue of a racist slave owner is the bare minimum that FSU could do for our community but especially out of respect for our Black student body,” said Valentina Beron, incoming SDS president. “As long as the statue of Francis Eppes stands at FSU, it represents the culture of white supremacy that is still deeply ingrained and being upheld by this institution today.”
“Francis Eppes used money from his slave-catching militia to fund one of the first police departments in the country, TPD. To this day TPD continues to subjugate Black people, most recently with the murders of Mychael Johnson and Tony McDade,” said Regina Joseph of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee.
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.