The protesters are coming, the protesters are coming

Josh Brannock

Ever since the Arab Spring in 2011, the headlines that dominated the international news on a daily basis were the continuous protests cropping up in nations across the world.

Protesters may come to campus Jan. 26 due to the GOP debate that will be taking place in the Lazzara Performance Hall.

Dr. Mauricio Gonzales, vice president of student affairs, attempted to verify an approximate number of groups who were planning on protesting. Only one group, Occupy Jacksonville, registered for a permit. He said a group will no longer be required to register for any form of permit in order to protest.

David Crabtree, director of the Student Union, said if a group organizes the day of the event and shows up to the Green, they will not be turned away as long as they stay within the protest policies and procedures.

Protesters who will be on the Green will not be allowed to use any amplified sound and cannot disrupt any classes that will be going on that day. The only areas that groups will be allowed to protest with amplified sound are at the Student Union Osprey Plaza and the Coxwell Amphitheater.

Crabtree said if a group or individual poses any threat to anyone’s personal safety, they will immediately be escorted off campus.

Read on to find out who is planning to protest the debate and why.

 

The UNF Pride Club and LGBT resource center both plan for the GOP debate
One group will protest, the other found an alternative

 

With the GOP debate coming to UNF’s campus Jan. 26, multiple groups have come out to say they plan on protesting the event.

One of them is the Pride Club, a student-run club at UNF that actively promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual equality.

An issue that has risen to prominence for voters is same-sex marriage. Republican politicians are typically opposed to marriage between two members of the same gender.

Pride Club President Gerald J., who requested that his full name not be disclosed, said the club will be present at the Green but stressed it will not be protesting just for LGBT equality. The group seeks to shed light on a variety of the GOP candidates’ political standpoints.

“We just want to educate people on who they’re voting for,” Gerald said. “[We are] showing documentation and backing it up with research and news articles to prove our case.”

Gerald said no one in the group will be forced to protest, nor is he expecting everyone to show up.

“It will be Pride Club members, but only if they so choose,” Gerald said. “We have some conservative members, and we have some very liberal members.”

One member who does not intend to show up for the protest is Staci U. Staci, who also requested not to be fully named, is a registered Republican who has fought for LGBT equality. She believes protesting in general does not get the point across in a successful way.

“I think protests in general are ridiculous,” Staci said. “I understand that it’s a way of putting out your opinions and your views, but at the same time, why do you feel the need?”

Gerald said the club will look to remain peaceful and stay within its rights. He also said no one from the school notified the club of any paper work that was necessary in order to protest.

Dr. Nicholas de Villiers, a UNF English and film studies professor, was planning on protesting the debate, but the LGBT Resource Center asked him to host a screening of the 1990 drag-show documentary “Paris is Burning” as an alternative to watching the debate. De Villiers said he contacted UNF President John Delaney after he saw the announcement. He said Delaney welcomes students and faculty who are planning on voicing their opinion.

De Villiers said he will still try to go to the Green and protest before the screening of the film at 7:30 p.m. He said if and when he protests, it will be about the rhetoric being used during the debates.

“The use of homophobia to generate a crowd response of booing – to me, that’s kind of the lowest common denomenator appeal,” De Villiers said. “I think as faculty members … we need to offer a counter point to this kind of rhetoric and Delaney said that he was fine with that and said, in fact, it was a good idea. He also lamented the use of homophobia during debates.”

By: Josh Brannock, Sports Editor

Occupy Jax protesters say they are dissatisfied with the GOP, President Obama

Stationed outside City Hall, Occupy Jacksonville’s group numbers are dwindling, but that will not stop it from rallying the troops for the Jan. 26 debate at UNF.

Upon arrival, it appears the protesters will have a lot to say, not only about the GOP and its candidates, but about the government itself, in all capacities.

“We need to fix things in Congress,” said Heather S., an Occupy Jacksonville protester who requested not to disclose her full name.

“There needs to be more taxes in place for the rich, more jobs and less homelessness,” she said. “We also need to effect changes that will create a movement toward more freedom of speech.”

Others are also frustrated with issues specific to Jacksonville.

“The city is doing things like cutting public safety pay and giving more to [Jacksonville Energy Authority] employees,” said Bill Grobe, a Jacksonville occupier. “This has to stop. We need the extra safety in the city.”

The Occupiers estimate between 20 and 30 Occupy Jacksonville Protesters will attend the debate but were unaware of any other groups of protesters planning to do so.

The protesters remain adamantly unsatisfied with the GOP, but President Barack Obama isn’t looking like too promising an alternative, either.

“I don’t have anyone in mind to vote for, at this point,” Heather said.

However, Kristian Gore, who is in charge of managing the live feed for the protesters downtown, said he will probably vote for current president Barack Obama, even if just by default.

“Obama scares me a little less than the other candidates,” Gore said.

The Occupy movement, which began Sept. 17, on New York City’s famed Wall Street, snowballed into a larger movement, which now spans the globe. Various cities, from Toronto to Tokyo, have participated in a worldwide protest that seems not to have a singular objective but rather a plethora of concerns.

Aleksandra Milicevic, UNF associate professor of sociology, has been conducting a participant observation of the Occupy Jacksonville movement.

Milicevic has done field observations, conducted surveys and will conduct in-depth interviews with the protesters as the last step in her research.

“Occupy is critical of politicians on both sides,” Milicevic said.

Milicevic said U.S. democracy has changed throughout the nation’s existence. What used to be people voting for their say in government, she said, is now turning into a financially influenced regime.

“Now we’re in a position where democracy is turning into one dollar, one vote,” Milicevic said, “and some people and some interest groups have way more resources to influence political decisions.”

The overall goal of Occupy is to create a society in which you don’t have such a huge gap between the rich and the poor, Milicevic said. It’s about creating a society in which you have social justice, which is a lifetime project.

Despite losing some steam along the way in terms of numbers, supporters of Occupy Jacksonville continue to hold out hope.

Milicevic said Occupy is a fairly new social movement. It appears Occupy would like to remain independent; its vision of society should look like our vision of society, she said.

“We need a government that is made up of the people and works for the people, instead of a government that is made up of the rich and works for the rich,” Gore said.

By: Maggie Seppi, Assistant News Editor

 

 

Email Josh and Maggie at [email protected]