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Tampa turns out to show right-wing student group Turning Point USA they aren’t welcome

By Joseph Nohava

Tampa protest at the national gathering of Turning Point USA.

Tampa, FL – Hundreds came out to protest the right-wing, billionaire-funded “student group” Turning Point USA summit, July 23. The Turning Point summit featured a gaggle of reactionary, racist and chauvinistic speakers, not the least of whom was Donald Trump, looking to build momentum for a possible second presidential run.

Shouts of “shame!” echoed through downtown as speaker Laura Rodriguez from Tampa Bay Community Action Committee spoke about the conference’s police protection, stating, “They’re paying cops to protect those racists and bigots in our city.”

Rodriguez continued, “This city is in a housing crisis whether the mayor wants to accept it or not. Tampa is the fourth worst city in the nation for rent affordability.”

Who these cops protect couldn’t have been clearer than when the protest moved to the convention center where the hatefest was taking place. The bigots attacked, shoved, pushed down and assaulted protesters as cops looked on in tacit approval, intervening only when it looked like the reactionaries were in danger.

As David Jones of TBCAC described, “We sat there and watched them protect those conservatives while they were attacking us, because whose side are they on? Not ours.” The reactionaries attacked protesters as young as 11. After a tense standoff, protesters returned downtown.

The Tampa community took to the streets to let these hatemongers know that they and their brand of bigotry were not welcome. This event took place in the context of not just the repeal of Roe v. Wade, but also other state level attacks on women, African Americans, and LGBTQ folks, with Florida’s ban on abortion at 15 weeks, whitewashing the history of U.S.'s oppression and slavery, as well mandating LGBT discrimination in the education system with the “Don't Say Gay” bill.

It is no accident that this event took place in Florida – both of these bills have been the pet projects of Trump ally and potential successor, Governor Ron DeSantis, who was also in attendance. The virulent national agenda of those at the conference was to further roll back political and workers' rights, continue environmental devastation, enable attacks on women and LGBTQ folks, and suppress national liberation movements.

Speakers from a wide range of community groups attacked the agenda and attendees of the conference. Harrison Lundy, local activist and organizer with Democratic Socialists of America, said, “They get billions in dark money to keep poor people poor, to keep houseless people houseless, and keep birthing people from their autonomy, and so they’re scared to see us out here.”

The protest was hosted by Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida and Tampa Bay Community Action Committee, with speakers from Students for a Democratic Society, Democratic Socialists of America, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The same coalition of workers, oppressed nationalities, immigrants, LGBTQ folks and women, that united to deliver Donald Trump a crushing defeat in the 2020 election came out today, and is what is needed to continue the struggle to defeat the agenda of groups like TPUSA.

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