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100 Florida students march against the KKK

By Zachary Schultz |
April 11, 2015
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Florida students protest KKK
Florida students protest KKK (Photo by Rosie Richeson)

Tallahassee, FL - Over 100 students gathered at the steps of the Westcott Building on the Florida State University campus, April 9, to protest the Ku Klux Klan. The Tallahassee chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) called the rally after recent Klan provocations.

Shivaani Ehsan, a member of SDS said, "We are out here today because we want to fight against the system of white supremacy and capitalism. We want to stand against the growing tide of white nationalism. Groups like the KKK are not to be taken lightly, they have been known to be involved in various police departments and other influential positions."

The KKK made national headlines last week when two Florida Department of Corrections officers and one former officer, all suspected members of the KKK, were arrested for planning to murder a black prisoner when he was released from a north Florida prison. Last month, the same Klan group passed out hundreds of flyers in Tallahassee neighborhoods as part of a recent recruiting campaign.

After rallying on campus, SDS members led a march through the streets of downtown Tallahassee toward the Florida State Capitol, with chants including "DOC, KKK, how many people have you killed today?" and "Indict, convict, send those racist cops to jail. The whole damn system, is guilty, as hell!" Protesters carried signs including "Crush the KKK - kill fascism" and "Klan out of Tally.”

SDS organizers said they received messages from white nationalist militias threatening to organize an armed counter-protest to defend the KKK. However, no counter-protesters showed up.

"It doesn't matter if they're skinheads, neo-Nazis, white secessionists or even the Klan. Their presence wasn't missed, but I think this definitely sets a precedent for how we will deal with Tallahassee's white supremacists in the future," said Naomi Bradley with Trans Liberation Front.

The student protesters marched up and stood on the steps of the Old Capitol Building, while members of SDS and other organizations including the Black Liberation Action Coordinating Committee (BLACC), Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Trans Liberation Front gave speeches condemning the KKK and the Florida police abuses and murder.

“I heard a lot of people who say, how can you connect the KKK to the police? And then you see what happens with the Department of Corrections how there's those three undercover Klansmen,” said Regina Joseph, a member of BLACC.

As the rally came to a close, organizers brought out the Confederate Battle Flag. After spitting and stomping on the flag, organizers lit it on fire while the crowd chanted "Klan out now.” The student protesters then celebrated as the flag burned and was ripped apart. SDS organizers ended the rally by promising to continue organizing against the KKK and racism in Tallahassee.

When asked what she hoped they accomplished, Ellena Fisher, one of the student protesters, said, “If there's a white supremacist terrorist group recruiting in my area than out of existential necessity alone I'm compelled to resist. We showed Tallahassee that we will not be complacent in our own torment, by staying silent and allowing the Klan to grow.”