DeSantis Touts Florida Response to Pro-Palestianian Campus Protests

The governor praised local authorities for maintaining ‘law and order’ amid escalating campus protests across the country.

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the University of Florida on May 8 to praise his state’s ability to maintain “law and order” on college campuses while a group of more than two dozen pro-Palestine protesters gathered behind a three-layered barrier of barricades, Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers, and more barricades.

The rebel band performed their album of chants that included classics such as “Free Free Palestine,” as well as new releases that catered to the moment, like “Ronny, Ronny, you can’t hide! You’re supporting genocide” in an attempt to drown out Mr. DeSantis’s address on May 8 that praised the work of the State University System and law enforcement for ensuring no protest disrupted or called a single graduation ceremony earlier this month.

“I want to thank the university here, as well as all of our state universities, for ensuring that we’re going to maintain order in the state of Florida,” Mr. DeSantis said.

“We are here on the campus quad at the University of Florida, where there was an attempt to set up an encampment last week. And I know that we’ve seen this throughout the rest of the country where this has kind of become a common occurrence. Well, we don’t do that here in the state of Florida. And so they did have an encampment, and it lasted about a few minutes.”

The governor denounced the destructive actions by protesters at other schools like Columbia and affirmed his stance that protestors don’t have the right to “take over parts of a university,” nor do they have a right to “go after other students based on their ethnicity,” and if any students were to take over a building or take someone as a hostage, they would be expelled.

He also called out what he called “disrespectful” actions being seen, such as the replacement of the U.S. flag with the Palestinian flag on the campus of UCLA and the desecration of the statue of George Washington at George Washington University.

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The governor was also joined by several state lawmakers, University of Florida President Ben Sasse, and State University System of Florida Chancellor Ray Rodrigues, who, through consultation with the governor, worked to ensure that “no commencement ceremony was canceled.”

Mr. Rodrigues spoke firmly through the waves of shouting about how other colleges and universities capitulated to their protesters, going so far in some cases as to grant amnesty to all students involved in the protests.

He also highlighted the fact that the class of 2024 was also the high school class of 2020 who lost out on that graduation due to COVID-19 and said the protestors looked to deny the same students yet another opportunity to walk across the stage and receive their degree.

Mr. Rodrigues expressed his pride for the university leadership and various law enforcement agencies for providing the necessary resources and working together to ensure every commencement ceremony planned went ahead “without disruption, without discrimination, without intimidation, and without arrest.

Mr. Sasse also touted the professionalism of Florida’s law enforcement officers in dealing with the protests, saying, “What you have done in the face of being spit on [and] shouted at with profanity has been amazing.”

“Too often in our time and place, we give the most voice to the loudest and angriest people, and The University of Florida is not filled with angry people,” he said.

Mr. Sasse also expressed pride in being the president of the school with the most Jewish students in the country. A current Jewish student came forward to vouch for the school’s efforts over the recent weeks, affirming, “Despite the challenges posed by protests, they’ve remained committed to protecting all students regardless of their backgrounds.”

Mr. DeSantis also announced hundreds of millions of dollars in further funding for school safety, including $20 million to protect Jewish Day Schools, $20 million to protect Florida’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and $569 million for K–12 school safety funding.

He also reminded the press that his executive order allowing the streamlining of the transfer requests of Jewish students from out of state remains in effect.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterates his commitment to keeping college campuses and graduations safe amid widespread pro-Palestine protests during a press conference at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., on May 8, 2024. (Christine Plumley for The Epoch Times)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterates his commitment to keeping college campuses and graduations safe amid widespread pro-Palestine protests during a press conference at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., on May 8, 2024. (Christine Plumley for The Epoch Times)

As the school year moves into Summer vacation, Mr. Rodrigues said that many protesters said they would be back in the fall “ready to pick up right where they are leaving off.” He promised that “There will be no negotiation. There will be no appeasement. There will be no amnesty, and there will be no divestment.”

“If you had the courage of your conviction, you wouldn’t need a mask,” Rep. Chuck Clemons, speaker pro tempore of the State House of Representatives, told The Epoch Times after the event. “If you believe in the First Amendment, you would not feel the need to shout other people down.

“That is the first step of fascism.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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