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Florida State students protest police brutality and racist Eppes statue

By Katherine Draken |
October 25, 2016
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Florida students march against police brutality
Florida students march against police brutality (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tallahassee, FL - On Oct. 22, 30 students rallied at Florida State University (FSU) as part of a national day of protest against police brutality. The students gave speeches and began their march at the Integration Statue on campus.

“It is our duty as a country, as unified people, as people who are looking for a better future, to monitor our police and to hold them accountable for their actions. When I say accountable, I mean jailing them, just like any other murderer would be jailed. The police are not immune to the law. As people of this country, it is also our duty to free those wrongly imprisoned by our racist institutions. If there is no justice, there will never be any peace,” said Lola Periwinkle with Gender Odyssey and the Pride Student Union at FSU.

The students marched through campus chanting, “Indict, convict, send these killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell,” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these killer cops have got to go.”

Students held signs naming victims of police murder, remembering Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland. Other signs read, “Black lives matter” and “Serve and protect, not beat and neglect.”

The students marched over to Westcott, the location of the infamous Francis Eppes statue. Eppes, the founder of FSU, owned 91 slaves on a plantation in Tallahassee. He ran slave-catching patrols that eventually became the Tallahassee Police Department. He sold much of his plantation to finance the Confederacy during the Civil War.

“This is Gallows Hill,” said Cea Moline with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), “where they used to hang the slaves that ran away. Here Francis Eppes sits, still looking over it. This statue is an embodiment of racism at FSU.”

Students then posted sticky notes on the Francis Eppes statue reading “slave owner,” “racist,” “murderer,” “Confederate” and “white supremacist.”

Then, the College Republicans arrived, chanting, “Build the wall,” and “Trump, Trump.” Some of the College Republicans took down the post-it notes and stuck them on themselves.

The anti-police brutality protesters marched off and into the streets to downtown Tallahassee and the capitol building. In front of the Capitol, the students held up signs and chanted while facing traffic. Cars slowed down with drivers shouting, “Black lives matter” or to honk and raise their fists in solidarity, as the students continued protesting.

Students ended the rally by speaking from the steps of the Capitol, about the story of two people killed by the Tallahassee Police Department: Duane Strong and Jeremy “Jed” Lett.

“The Tallahassee Police Department was created by Francis Eppes as a slave patrol. The racism continues to this day as the police continue to brutalize and murder Black people. The police that have committed these murders continue to stay on the force with no repercussions. We need to build the movement to jail these killer cops and put the police under community control,” said Zachary Schultz, member of SDS.