One of the protesters criticized the governor for being “extremely pro-Israel” and said the group waving the “DeSantis Country” flag was “definitely not pro-DeSantis.”
By Zac Howard
TAMPA – On Sunday, July 24, a group of protesters showed up outside the Tampa Convention Center, where the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit was being held. The protesters were equipped with megaphones, signs displaying anti-Semitic slogans and an assortment of flags. Their presence triggered a blitz of media coverage, which primarily focused on Governor DeSantis.
Less than 24 hours after the event concluded, The View’s Joy Behar shared her thoughts: “DeSantis did not say anything about it. So, it’s his rendition of ‘Good people on both sides.’ Same idea,” Behar stated.
DeSantis was no longer in Tampa when the protesters took their stand outside the convention center; he had spoken at the Turning Point USA Summit two days earlier, on July 22. Behar’s co-host Whoopi Goldberg went so far as to call Turning Point USA “complicit,” but later apologized after Turning Point USA sent a cease and desist letter to ABC News.
LACK OF SCRUTINY
Scrutiny of the protesters has been largely absent from the outrage and dogpile on the governor, at least among the legacy media outlets. Many people on social media have pointed out that some of the flags the protesters waved still had visible creases in them, possibly indicating that they had not been used much or were perhaps only recently purchased. The protesters waved two flags that bore the Nazi swastika symbol, one black Nazi SS flag, one flag that said “DeSantis Country,” and the state flag of Florida.
Independent journalists Tayler Hansen and Aldo Buttazzoni spoke with the protesters, who proffered a wide array of claims. The journalists shared their video footage with The Florida Standard.
One of the men told them his parents were murdered by African Americans, and that police arrested the murderer. When Buttazzoni asked the same man about his parents a few minutes later, he said, “The Jews killed my parents, they indoctrinated them.” After Buttazzoni pointed out the inconsistency, the man said they “all” did it, “Jews, blacks, gays… society.”
When asked if he was a Nazi, one man responded, “I am me.” He also said he doesn’t hate minorities, even though one of his fellow protesters claimed that the reason they were protesting was “to start a race war.”
The demonstrators mostly declined to elaborate on their responses, sometimes suggesting that journalists do their own research. “I’m just educated enough to know that there’s a huge fucking problem, but I’m not educated enough to sit here and play questions with you,” one man said.
The only protester among the group with megaphones who was willing to show his face has been identified as a 74-year-old man named David Howard Wydner, who has apparently participated in similar protests in the past, including several in Florida. Wydner could not be reached for comment.
In addition to the group that Hansen and Buttazzoni spoke to in front of the main entrance of the convention center, another group of anti-Jewish protesters stood in a different location outside the venue with a swastika flag and matching red t-shirts.
One of these red-shirt protesters, Josh Nunes, 35, says the two groups are not united. Nunes identifies himself and his constituents as “a pro-white advocacy group” and distinguished them from other groups with similar views, insisting that their methodology is non-violent and focuses on legal activism.
“I can tell you that they’re not with us,” he said of the more conspicuous demonstrators, acknowledging that he is familiar with the group and knew beforehand that they would be at the event. “They’re definitely not pro-DeSantis. What they’re trying to do is get DeSantis associated with a Nazi ideology to basically de-platform him.”
Nunes admitted he appreciates some of what DeSantis has done as governor, but criticized him for being “extremely pro-Israel.”
In articles questioning why DeSantis has not formally acknowledged the protesters, media outlets including the Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, Yahoo News, Rolling Stone and People, neglected to reference DeSantis’ existing public record on Israel and Jewish causes.
The Tampa Free Press recounted a handful of these, including that one of DeSantis’ first acts as governor was to take the Florida Cabinet to Israel in order to strengthen cultural and economic ties between Jerusalem and Tallahassee.
Last year, DeSantis added $12 million to the state budget to benefit Jewish groups, and the Florida Department of Education set new standards for the required teaching of the Holocaust in public schools.