by Tristan Worthington
Gainesville’s own chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is actively fighting this semester to make their 2014–2015 campaign, “Demilitarize UF,” a success. Lead organizers have worked in collaboration with other student and community groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), UF Libertarians, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), to raise awareness about the Federal 1033 Program and the increasing militarization of police forces in local communities and on college campuses. This campaign is synchronous with similar campaigns taken on by SDS chapters at FSU and USF.
The 1033 Program, also known as the Department of Defense Excess Property Program, was founded in 1997 as a means for law enforcement agencies across the country to strengthen the war on drugs. Since 1997, over five billion dollars’ worth of military equipment has been transferred to local and state police departments, including an armored personnel carrier to the University of Florida, grenade launchers to the University of Central Florida, etc.
On November 19, Students for a Democratic Society will be holding a rally on campus to build momentum for their final protest of the year, and to collect signatures for an “Opt-Out of the 1033 Program” petition to deliver to University of Florida President Bernie Machen.
On December 3, SDS’s biggest protest of the year will commence, and a march to the administrative Tigert Hall will culminate in the delivery of the petition to President Machen. The community is encouraged to come out and show their support for the University severing this objectionable arms agreement with the government. Information on the time and exact location will be provided as the rally date approaches.
SDS meets every Monday at 6:30pm in Anderson Hall, room 32. Information about events and meetings is posted on the UF Students for a Democratic Society Facebook page.