The rally met in front of a Wendy's Hamburgers around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and proceeded down Fowler Avenue to three other fast food chains. The original plan was to cross the highway and wrap up at a Kentucky Fried Chicken on the other side but after more than 20 minutes of heavy rain, organizers dispersed the crowd around 5:30 p.m.
Many of those in attendance wore labor union t-shirts. Dustin Ponder, who describes himself as a rank-and-file member of the Teamsters at UPS, said the unions were there to support and educate fast food workers.
Hundreds of people in the Tampa Bay area rallied this weekend wearing shirts, carrying signs and chanting, saying "We are Trayvon." Two rallies, one in St Petersburg and one in Tampa, were organized after last weeks not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, where Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Some in attendance were there to listen, some to lend support, and some to be heard.
On Friday a Unity and Justice rally was held in Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg under threatening skies. The tenor of the rally was peaceful as speakers challenged the multi-race audience of about 85 people to action. They suggested contacting their elected officials about the Florida Stand Your Ground law and educating themselves about public officials before getting out to vote. The event ended with a march to city hall in downtown St Petersburg.
On Saturday an estimated 400 people attended a Justice for Trayvon rally in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa. Many of them expressed the same sentiment as the Friday rally, calling for a repeal of the Stand Your Ground law, federal action against George Zimmerman, and expressing a bond with the Martin family, some of whom were in attendance.
Sunday, May 19, marked the Golden Anniversary of the annual Eckerd College graduation commencement in Saint Petersburg. More than 500 graduates, their families and well-wishers, the faculty and the board of trustees all gathered under a circus-styled big top for the ceremony. This year’s commencement address was delivered by Bill McKibben, a world-renowned environmental activist and educator.
McKibben has written several books on global warming and alternative energy, and is the founder of the grassroots climate movement 350.org. The 350 number refers to the amount of CO2 in parts per million which is the safe upper limit on a human tolerance scale.
Scientists, including McKibben, assert that an accelerated greenhouse effect will be the outcome if 350 ppm is exceeded, and that translates directly into bizarre and erratic climate change. 350.org is behind what's considered to be the largest globally coordinated protest, with 5,200 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries.
As Floridians, hurricanes are routine. We are conditioned to it, the pace of preparation every year like clockwork. But as one New Yorker wrote me this morning, "Yes, you guys have hurricanes down there unfortunately. NYC does not, sadly."
So here are some ways people in the area are helping or can help.
"There was no abortion, nothing, we didn't have any rights," Leza said Saturday in front of Jannus Live in St. Petersburg. "That woman was Gloria Steinem."
On Saturday, feminist, journalist and writer Gloria Steinem spoke against Amendment 6 — read more about the amendment here — at the I Am Choice rally at Jannus Live. More than 15 people spoke at the rally, which was attended by 400 plus people. The crowd was primarily composed of young women, with older women and men of all ages also in attendance.
"We certainly think women's issues are family issues because women primarily run their households," said Barbara Zdravecky, president of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.
"It's not definitely not getting better," Grefe said. "It is getting younger and older. There is no doubt we've seen an increase in people under 12 years old. Also, more males are being affected today."
Starting yesterday, The National Eating Disorders Association hosts a three-day conference at The Vinoy in St. Petersburg. This year's theme is, "What about us? Diversity and complexity in Eating Disorders."
"The idea is to bring experts from all over the world to communities and family," Grefe said. "We want to get people information, resources, and support."
Grefe said that awareness of eating disorders is improving, which is why numbers for those affected are increasing.
On Monday, I Am Choice announced that the writer and feminist will headline its Saturday, Oct. 20, Get Out The Vote Unplugged rally against Amendment 6 (read more about the amendment here). The rally takes place at Jannus Live in St. Pete and features Steinem along with Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Rep. Rick Kriseman, and congressional candidate Jessica Ehrlich.
Is Florida’s Amendment 8 a mandate for religious freedom? That was the theme of a public meeting last held last Saturday at the First Congregational United Church of Christ.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State organized the gathering. The three keynote speakers and the roughly 40 people in attendance painted a foreboding picture if the amendment passes.
Amendment 8 is colloquially referred to as “Florida’s Religious Freedom Amendment” but according to some the wording is disingenuous. If it passes it will abolish the Florida Constitutional No-Aid Provision. Currently, the Florida government is prohibited allocating public funds to be used “directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.”