Category Archives: Florida

Occupy Y’all Street

by KurtFF8

The Huffington Post has launched a series about Occupations that are “under-publicized” and has started with a video from Gainesville, Florida.  It demonstrates how the Occupy movement really resonates with “average folks” (whatever that means) and how it is really taking root in places like Gainesville.  The city does have a major university and a history of activism, so perhaps seeing an Occupy movement taking shape there shouldn’t be too surprising.  Hopefully the Huffington Post reporters visit Occupy sites like Roanoke, Virginia next.

The video can be see on the Huffington Post’s website here

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Filed under class struggle, Florida, Gainesville, Occupy Movement, Southern United States, Virginia

Stetson Kennedy dies at 94 in Fla.

From Forbes.com:

MIAMI — Author and folklorist Stetson Kennedy, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan six decades ago and exposed its secrets to authorities and the public but was also criticized for possibly exaggerating his exploits, died Saturday. He was 94.

Kennedy died at Baptist Medical Center South near St. Augustine, where he had been receiving hospice care.

In the 1940s, Kennedy used the “Superman” radio show to expose and ridicule the Klan’s rituals. In the 1950s he wrote “I Rode with the Ku Klux Klan,” which was later renamed “The Klan Unmasked,” and “The Jim Crow Guide.”

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Filed under African Americans, Florida, Race, racism

Tampa, Orlando, and Feeding the Homeless

by KurtFF8

Tampa has recently joined with Orlando in cracking down on groups that feed the homeless on public property.  According to an article published today on tbo.com, Tampa police have shut down an operation of church group volunteers that have been feeding the homeless in downtown Tampa for 6 years.  This comes after Orlando police have been arresting activists with Food Not Bombs for feeding the homeless in Orlando.  Why is it that the “Sunshine State” has been cracking down on folks who are literally just trying to feed the homeless?  There has been some speculation that in the case of Tampa’s recent actives, it has to do with the upcoming Republican National Convention and an effort by the city to “clean up” before the convention is underway.  While the city denies it is related to the GOP convention, the effort to “clean up” the streets is certainly cited by officials.

There has been a recent upsurge in the population of those without homes, that has come at a time of continued economic crisis.  Florida is home to one of the hardest hit housing markets in the wake of the Great Recession.  It has also ceased to be one of the fastest growing states in the US, which has lead many in power facing an image problem (along with recent attacks on unions and immigrant workers by the state legislature).

There is certainly a problem with painting efforts to arrest and harass those feeding the homeless as “cleaning up” the streets of a given city.  It assumes that homeless populations are themselves a “problem” that need to be “taken care of,” and instead of addressing the real roots of that problem, they assault those who are the victims of economic circumstances.  Similar rhetoric has been used against the communities that recently were hit by major riots in the United Kingdom.

This crackdown on those feeding the homeless comes after years of non-enforcement of these ordinances that as the TBO.com article points out: are difficult to demonstrate laws were broken.  It really comes down to the class nature of law enforcement in places like Florida, where property is considered a “right” (see: the advice by the city to move the feedings to private property) and where human rights and dignity are pushed to the wayside.

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Filed under class struggle, Florida, housing, Southern Strategy, Southern United States

Alabama surpasses Arizona with racist anti-immigrant law

by KurtFF8

Alabama recently passed a new anti-immigrant law that many have described as “more harsh” than the controversial anti-immigrant law in Arizona that essentially promotes racial profiling (this argument is focused on the fact that folks can be questioned for being “suspected of” being an undocumented worker).  Georgia recently passed a similar law, making the South the center of the immigration debate.

As usual, both sides of the “mainstream” debate fall short of getting to the real issues at heart: the real manifestations of racism, and international labor relations (see NAFTA as an important variable to immigration itself).  Even the “liberal” arguments against these laws are full of sentiments like “well immigrants do the jobs no one else wants to do for that price.”  This line of logic is just as problematic as the more “overtly racist” arguments by the far-Right, in that the “servant class” role for undocumented workers is seen as justified or not problematic itself.

Florida also recently attempted to pass a similar law, but the state legislature as not unified and faced a strong activist response (with the Florida Capitol looking a lot like the halls of the Wisconsin Capitol for a few days).

These laws need to be fought with a mass movement based on solidarity and workers power.

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Filed under Alabama, class struggle, Florida, Georgia, Human Rights, immigration, Leftists in the U.S. South, racism, Southern United States, Tallahassee, workers

City unveils Foot Soldiers monument

This originally appeared on the St. Augustine Record’s site

Record Staff Writer

Freedom Rider Hank Thomas remembers thinking he was going to die on a bus that was fire bombed by a mob in Alabama 50 years ago.

Thomas, one of the original Freedom Riders and a St. Augustine native, recounted the details of his civil rights protesting days as a young adult in the 1960s at the unveiling of the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers monument in the Plaza de la Constitucion on Saturday evening.

“Today is the anniversary of that bus burning,” Thomas said to a group of hundreds that gathered under the Old Market pavilion in downtown St. Augustine. “I thought I was going to die at 19 years old.”

Freedom Riders traveled through Southern cities by bus to fight for the right of African-Americans to travel across state lines on trains and buses while using the same seats, bathrooms, water fountains and other facilities as whites.

Thomas and several others were trapped inside a bus while a mob fire bombed the bus and held the doors closed. That event in May 1961 is one of many violent acts Thomas saw or was apart of as a protester.

Civil rights protesters like Thomas and Dr. Robert Hayling, who alongside Martin Luther King Jr., played a major role in helping young African-Americans rally against segregation in St. Augustine, spoke at the unveiling ceremony.

Longtime Lincolnville resident, 88-year-old Barbara Vickers sparked an interest in 2004 of creating a memorial for civil rights activists in St. Augustine. A board of directors was formed, which included Cathy Brown, the executive director at the Council on Aging, and former city of St. Augustine mayor George Gardner. From that, the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Remembrance Project was born.

City and county officials, among many others, watched as Vickers and others pulled down a black sheet the hung over the new bronze sculpture in the Plaza. Four head busts represent the many Foot Soldiers who were arrested, threatened and just fought for equal rights in St. Augustine.

Carolyn Fisher led the audience, packed tightly under the cover of the market to keep out of the rain, in song. Together they sang “the Freedom Song,” “This little light of Mine,” and many others.

Ms. Carrie Johnson, known as the “Voice of Lincolnville,” led the group in song as she rode up to the Plaza on her well-known purple tricycle, her straw hat with a purple sash tucked underneath a bright yellow raincoat.

“In the words of Errol Jones, ‘Let the healing continue,'” said St. Augustine Mayor Joe Boles.

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Filed under African Americans, class struggle, Florida

The Florida Legislative Session

by KurtFF8

The following video was produced by the Florida AFL-CIO about the actions that workers took to fight back against the reactionary legislature in Florida.

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Filed under class struggle, Corporations, Florida, Gulf States, labor movement, labor unions, Leftists in the U.S. South, Southern United States, Students, Tallahassee

Florida Tea Party member goes on racist rant

by KurtFF8

This individual likely does not quite “speak for the Tea Party” like he claims in the opening of this video.  Yet much of what he says in this rant is what the Left has been claiming is implicit in the rhetoric of the Tea Party.  This all in the name of demonstrating that the Tea Party is not racist.  This is an ultimate failure of what many conservatives try to do: turn the rhetoric around and act very defensive when accused of racism (“You’re the ones being racist by discussing race!”)  This tactic clearly didn’t work here.

Another interesting aspect of this video so far is what Althusser would call a “guilty silence.”  That guilty silence being the Tea Party’s lack of distancing itself from this individual (although if this video becomes a broader controversy, it’s certainly possible they will issue some sort of statement condemning it).  His rants against political correctness translate directly into racism and it should be quite clear without even having to watch the entire video.

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Filed under Florida, Race, racism, Tea Party