Tallahassee, FL – On Tuesday, January 30, more than 300 people rallied at the Florida Capitol building in support of Palestine and against proposed Senate Bill 470/ House Bill 465. The bill is a blatant attack on pro-Palestine students.
If passed, the bill would mandate schools report the information of pro-Palestine students to the Department of Homeland Security, could take away visas for international students studying in Florida, and would make domestic students ineligible for financial aid, scholarships, and grants.
Despite continued attacks on the peoples’ movements in Florida, hundreds of people from every major city in the state mobilized to Tallahassee to fight against this bill. The mobilization was called by Students for a Democratic Society’s three Florida chapters: Florida State University (FSU), University of North Florida (UNF), and Tampa Bay.
Tavyan Dorsey, vice president of FSU SDS, opened the event with a speech stating, “The Florida legislature claims to stand for freedom but wants to steal education from students who demand an end to genocide. This past Friday, we learned that FSU removed our [SDS’s] status as a student organization on campus. Zionists see our solidarity with Palestine, which is why they are resorting to political repression and this cowardly legislation!”
Jacob Muldoon, founder of Orlando for Gender Equality, drew the link between the LGBTQ rights movement and the movement for a free Palestine: “Attacks on Pro-Palestine students and anti-LGBTQ-plus laws, like ‘Don’t Say Gay’, are a part of an all-out attack on our education system. They want to ban the use of pronouns and censor the voices of students across the state.”
Sara Tayiba, a Palestinian organizer with the Jacksonville Palestine Solidarity Network, said, “What are considered boundaries of modern day Israel has separated and divided my family for 75 years.” She went on to talk about how DeSantis and Jacksonville politicians hypocritically claim supporting Palestine is anti-Semitic while doing nothing about nazis rallying openly in Jacksonville.
Several other organizations were represented at the event, such as Florida Palestine Network, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Florida Student Power, and the Community Action Committees of Tallahassee, Tampa Bay, and Jacksonville.
After speeches from the organizations, attendees took to the streets and marched around Capitol Hill, passing the Historic Capitol and Florida Supreme Court buildings. The streets echoed with chants of “Israel bombs, USA pays!” and “Stop the siege on Gaza now! End the occupation now!” As marchers passed the senate and house office buildings, representatives and staffers could be seen looking out their windows at the crowd below.
Delilah Pierre, President of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, closed the event with a powerful message: “They can pass whatever legislation they want, because when the people unite, we can never be defeated. We won’t stop organizing until we end U.S. aid to Israel and Palestine is free!”