Pensacola rally calls for unity against neo-Nazis and white supremacists
On Sunday, the Central Gulf Coast branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation held the “Pensacola United Against Nazis” rally in Seville Square. The rally was influenced by an International Women’s Day event the organization held earlier this month that was targeted by a small group of teenage boys who identified as neo-Nazis.
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“They were shouting racial slurs at our attendees, and they were even doing the Nazi salute and yelling ‘white power,’” said Sarah Brummet, a local organizer of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. “It was just an extremely shocking thing to see in our community, especially at an event that’s supposed to be a positive space to celebrate the history of the women’s struggle.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-semitic violence and harassment increased by 36% in 2022. This is the highest increase since the organization began recording these attacks in 1979.
“This struggle against Nazism could not be more dire,” Brummet said. “We have to make sure our community members are protected, that we are able to live in safety and dignity, and not allow fear and hatred to divide us.”
Sunday’s rally brought in about 10 times the number of people standing in solidarity against white supremacy than the number of neo-Nazis that targeted the International Women’s Day event. Speakers from different groups emphasized the need for unity and called for stronger ties to prevent white supremacy from flourishing in Pensacola.
“We will not allow hatred and bigotry to flourish here, we will not allow Nazis to recruit here,” Brummet said during a speech. “We care too much about each other, we care too much about our community, and we care too much about our children.”
“Our community is made up of different groups, each of us deserves safety and dignity in our city,” said Jasmine Brown, another organizer for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, during a speech. “We will not allow Nazis or fascists to be empowered or emboldened by the hatred and division they want to sew among us. Our collective goal for this event is that the people united will never be defeated.”
One of the individuals who spoke at the rally was Peyton Brummet, a high school student from Pensacola. Peyton, who says her school has many Jewish, LGBTQ, and students of color, stated that two students were recently revealed to be neo-Nazis.
“When these students were exposed, so many students felt hurt and betrayed because this was somebody they considered a friend,” Peyton said during a speech. “These boys were walking around my school knowing they have been spreading hate about each of these groups.”
Peyton also touched on the dangers of internet personalities who offer false and often racist or prejudiced answers to the problems of our world. Many white supremacists and neo-Nazis post extremist content on social media to indoctrinate and recruit new followers.
“Nazi beliefs held by one person are dangerous, and they become more and more dangerous when it’s spread to others,” Peyton said. “It will continue to get more dangerous as people online continue to fall for manipulative traps. It is scary to know that this is happening at my school and could be happening at others, but we can’t let fear stop us from acting.”
Numerous speakers, some of which are Jewish, black, or queer, discussed the importance of learning U.S. and world history. Robin Blyn, a Jewish American, spoke about the significance of educating young people about the horrors of the Holocaust.
“Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it,” Blyn said during a speech. “But also, remembering is not enough, knowing is not enough. It’s what we do with that memory that matters, it’s what we do with that knowledge that matters. That’s why we’re out here today.”
Rally speakers stated that when minority groups such as people of color or Jewish people are thriving, the whole of America is thriving. They also urged the importance of standing up and taking action when injustices and attacks like the one in Pensacola occur.
“We have to act when Nazis show up,” Blyn said. “Whether it’s a fringe group in Skokie, Illinois; when it flares up at a counter protest and Charlottesville, Virginia; when it shows up at an International Women’s Day celebration in Pensacola; when it shows up in the Oval Office; we have to snuff out the flame of fascism.”
Rally-goers like Justin Otto believe that what makes us powerful as a community is unity, not hatred. He agrees that in any case, unity will always prevail.
“Hatred is never appeased by hatred,” Otto said. “By love alone is hatred appeased, and it’s unfortunate that people still have that mindset [of hatred] in the year 2023, when in reality, we’re all just one being.”
To learn more about the prevention of white supremacy and anti-semitic attacks, click here. You can also follow the Party for Socialism and Liberation Central Gulf Coast on Instagram.