TAMPA, Florida – The appearance of demonstrators outside a gathering of young conservative activists that featured speeches by President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and a number of Republican U.S. senators was denounced by a Holocaust center in Florida and others. The event, according to Florida Holocaust Museum Chairman Mike Igel, posed “a direct threat” to the local Jewish population. The museum is located in St. Petersburg, across the harbor from the Tampa Meeting Center, where the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit convention was taking place on Saturday when the demonstrators turned up outside.
Turning Point, a Trump-aligned organization that mobilizes young people on college campuses into conservative activism, was established by conservative Charlie Kirk in 2012. Five thousand young conservatives attended the convention. Igel issued a statement that read, “Carrying the Nazi flag, or that of the SS, the organization responsible for some of the darkest horrors of the Holocaust, is an unjustifiable act of pure hatred.” “Politics or religion have no bearing on this. It concerns humanity.
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Although Turning Point had previously issued a statement to regional news sources claiming that the demonstrators had no connection to the conference, they did not immediately respond to an email request on Sunday. Other speakers at the Turning Point convention besides Trump and DeSantis included Republican U.S. Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz as well as Fox News TV host Laura Ingraham. A brief altercation occurred between the Nazi flag-waving protestors and those who had marched from a nearby park to the convention center in opposition to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some of the demonstrators were observed sporting shirts with the National Socialist Movement’s insignia, a Kissimmee-based organization. According to police, this same group attended a Nazi event in Orange County where a Jewish University of Central Florida student was attacked in February. The Nazi protestors were denounced on Sunday by Florida officials from both political parties, including Republican U.S. Rick Scott and Democratic governor hopefuls Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried.