TAMPA, Fla. – A Holocaust center in Florida and others condemned the presence of protesters holding Nazi flags and posters with antisemitic imagery outside a convention of young conservative activists that drew as speakers President Donald Trump, Florida Gov, Ron DeSantis and several Republican U.S. senators.
Florida Holocaust Museum chairman Mike Igel said that the demonstration represented “a direct threat" to the Jewish community in the area. The museum is based in St. Petersburg, across the bay from the Tampa Convention Center, where the protesters showed up Saturday outside where the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit convention was being held.
Founded by conservative Charlie Kirk in 2012, Turning Point is a Trump-aligned group that organizes young people on college campuses into conservative activism. The convention attracted 5,000 young conservatives.
“Carrying the Nazi flag, or that of the SS, the unit responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust, is an indefensible act of pure hatred," Igel said in a statement. “This isn’t about politics or religion. It’s about humanity."
Turning Point didn't immediately return an email inquiry on Sunday but had previously put out a statement to local news outlets saying that the protesters had no affiliation with the conference. Besides Trump and DeSantis, other scheduled speakers at the Turning Point convention included Republican U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and Fox News TV personality Laura Ingraham.
The protesters with Nazi flags clashed briefly with protesters who had marched to the convention center from a nearby park demonstrating against the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some of the protesters were seen wearing shirts bearing the logo of a Kissimmee-based group, the National Socialist Movement. This same group took part in a Nazi rally in Orange County where a Jewish University of Central Florida Student was attacked in February, according to investigators.
Florida politicians across the political spectrum, from Republican U.S. Rick Scott to Democratic gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried, condemned the Nazi protesters on Sunday.