'From the River to the Sea' Chant Echoes Loudly Throughout DeSantis UF Press Conference

'From the River to the Sea' Chant Echoes Loudly Throughout DeSantis UF Press Conference

DeSantis had to speak loudly to avoid being drowned out by pro-Palestinian protesters during his press conference at UF

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
May 8, 2024

GAINESVILLE, FL—Chants of "Free Palestine" and "From the River to the Sea" reverberated louder and louder across the University of Florida—just as Governor Ron DeSantis was delivering a press conference on Florida's successful handling of pro-Palestine protests.

"We don't do that here in Florida," DeSantis said Wednesday morning as faint, inaudible chants could be heard in the distant background. He was referring to encampments being erected on at least 80 different college campuses.

At schools like the University of Southern California and Columbia University, tensions between the administration and increasingly out-of-control protests led to graduations being canceled in favor of smaller, individual commencement ceremonies.

DeSantis talked about the "malcontents" who "ruined" graduation at those schools, lauding Floridian efforts to quickly deconstruct encampments and quell protests on Florida campuses.

"[Protesters at the University of Florida] did have an encampment, and it lasted about a few minutes," DeSantis said.

However, as the press conference continued, formerly muffled chants grew louder and louder, until "Free, Free Palestine" began to punctuate every few sentences spoken by the Governor.

"There's a stark difference between Florida and many other states in this nation," said Dave Kerner, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, speaking loudly over the swelling voices. "Our governor will not bend to the shrill and illogical will of an entitled and reckless super minority."

"He will not tolerate for a moment campuses degenerating into collectives of violence and anti-American and antisemitic dogma."

40 total protestors have been arrested statewide—nine from UF—with tensions escalating at Tampa's University of South Florida campus when police tear-gassed demonstrators to disperse crowds.

The five students arrested at Tallahassee's Florida State University, meanwhile, received one-year campus bans for putting up tents after being told not to. The two who were set to graduate during their ban will not be able to walk at the ceremony.

"We will not let the inmates run the asylum here in the Sunshine State," DeSantis concluded, before briskly ending the conference with no questions from the media. DeSantis, who has maintained that Florida has led in how to handle campus protesters, came face-to-face with the true breadth of these campus protests, ones that don't seem to be as under control as he has said in the past.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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