Category Archives: May-June 2019

Memorial Mile

Veterans for Peace will display more than 6,959 tombstones on 8th Avenue just east of 31st Street from dawn on Saturday, May 25 through dusk on Memorial Day, May 27. The display is part of their Memorial Day Weekend event to remember soldiers who have died in the wars in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003.

The tombstones will line the street where the Solar System Walk is located. This is the eleventh year VFP has set up the display. In 2008 they crossed over to the north side of 8th Avenue due to the continuing number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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SB 168 goes against fundamental American values

A new anti-immigrant bill is making its way through the Florida legislature and aims to outlaw sanctuary cities in this state. While there are no sanctuary cities in Florida, SB 168 sends a harmful message to immigrants.

Immigrants are not a threat to this country’s safety or economy. That divisive rhetoric is spin pushed by the president. SB 168 goes against every fundamental American value. It would create lasting damage to businesses and industries in this state and make law enforcement more difficult and demanding.

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Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons retires

Friday, April 19 marked a milestone in the life of Dr. Zoharah Simmons, as she was honored with a retirement party at the Keene Faculty Center, co-hosted by African American Studies, Center for Women and Gender Studies, and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.  

That list alone shows how involved she was at UF, but it doesn’t scratch the surface of her life experience as a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee volunteer in the 1960s, her activities in the broader civil rights and peace movements in the 70’s, and later with the American Friends Service Committee and academia. 

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Porters Quarters residents fight land grab

by Olysha Magruder and Tyler Foerst

Porters Quarters is a small but historic community in the center of the Downtown Gainesville area. The residents of Porters are working class people, many of whom are African American and whose families have lived here for generations. Indeed, one neighbor, Olivia said, that the house and land she and her husband own in Porters is their legacy.

Porters has felt the pressure of UF’s ever-expanding campus and the cry for urban density, especially in the past couple of years. The need for student housing and office space is huge for such a large university and the Innovation District of our City. 

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Satchel’s May ATM fees will go to CMC

Satchel’s Pizza, and the adjoining Lightning Salvage, have a special place in Gainesville, After rebuilding from a big fire a couple years ago, they have come roaring back better than ever.  

The gift shop, kinda barren when they first reopened, is again chock full of the weird novelty items you never see anywhere else. They are pioneering early evening music, with live music running from 6 to 9 most nights. They treat their employees well, too, setting a high standard for other Gainesville businesses.

They are cash-only, which means their ATM gets a workout, and Satchel donates that fee to one or another nonprofit organizations every month. May’s organization is the Civic Media Center, so go get some money out of that machine, get yourself a calzone or pizza, maybe a big salad, and enjoy. 

WGOT begins streaming, seeks local sponsor relationships

By Fred Sowder, WGOT Station Coordinator

It’s been a busy couple of months at your community radio station. WGOT recently had a blast at our most recent benefit concert at Loosey’s Downtown. Thanks to Ricky Kendall, Dolce Kings, VOWLS, Leaning Trees, and members of Captive Eddies for loaning their time and talents to our cause; Danny Hughes for offering up his venue; and to everyone who attended. You put community in community radio every day and are the reason we do what we do. We also express gratitude to all who made our first year in “The Amazing Give” a successful one.

We’ve also moved forward on a leap of faith and have begun streaming worldwide. Visit for details or, if you have the TuneIn app on your mobile device, search for WGOT. We’re still ironing out technical details, but for the most part, you can now take us with you to hear our great variety of local and national music and talk programs no matter where you are. We’re still short about $1,000 of our streaming GoFundMe campaign goal, so please consider donating to help put us over the top. We’ve also applied for local grants so we can continue to stream while hoping to hear good news from those efforts. 

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Group aims to reduce the spread of HIV locally

by Jeffrey Solius, WellFlorida Council

The High Impact Prevention (HIP) project by WellFlorida Council aims to decrease the spread of HIV and link HIV-infected individuals to prevention and care services in Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Lake, Marion and Putnam counties. The program is currently offering free HIV testing, condoms and educational materials at local events and participating businesses. 

Everyone’s Doing It promotes condom use and HIV testing throughout the six counties. Testing is confidential, and teens do not need parental consent to be tested for HIV. Locate HIV testing sites and events at WellFlorida provides free HIV testing Monday through Friday by appointment only. WellFlorida is located at 1785 NW 80th Blvd., Gainesville. Call 352-313-6500 ext. 134 for more information.

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Quitting tobacco isn’t easy, finding help should be

If you are ready to quit, join our next Tools to Quit Tobacco group on Tuesday, May 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Newberry Branch Library or Thursday, May 9 from 6 to 8 pm at The Cancer Center of North Florida Regional Medical Center. 

This free one time, two-hour group will give you tips on how to deal with triggers, withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. You will also receive up to four weeks of free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. 

This group more than doubles your chance of quitting for good. Pre-registration is required. Call 866-341-2730 to reserve your spot.

Fight Toxic Prisons Convergence coming to Gainesville

The 2019 Fight Toxic Prisons Convergence is taking place June 14-17 in Gainesville and will include speakers, panels, workshops, protests and cultural activities exploring the intersections of anti-prison and environmental struggles. 

The Convergence is always free, they just ask for a sliding scale donation ($25 – $50) to help cover costs, primarily to provide assistance with transportation, food and housing to make the event broadly accessible to people hit hardest by repression, criminalization and toxicity. 

For more information, check out and 

From the publisher … Disconnected not divided

by Joe Courter

There is much talk about this country being so severely divided, and anyone who bothers at all to engage in what used to be the much more fun practice of talking politics with friends and family can get this feeling. Our technology has provided so many options and points of view to draw from that many people are stuck inside their information silo and constrained from finding common ground with others and prioritizing what is important. Misconceptions, bogus belief systems and questions of source credibility muddy the waters of meaningful communication.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, in her talk at the Students for Justice in Palestine fashion show at UF a couple of weekends ago, used the phrase that is the title of this column, crediting a minister in her hometown of Detroit for using it to describe our society. Divided is a term that implies a permanence, dare I say it, like a wall. As if there is an inherent barrier to solution. Disconnected is different. And we are in a society that has become disconnected from others within our shared environs. It is a world of economic segregation, and a world where irresponsible leaders will, whether from the pulpit or the podium, spew moral judgment and fear-mongering against others. 

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Adjunct faculty organize at Santa Fe College

by Glynn Hayes

The part-time contingent faculty at Santa Fe College recently filed with the Florida Government for the right to hold an election on forming a union that could democratically represent, bargain for, and protect this group of professors. Indeed, part-time faculty in many of the colleges in Florida have filed for and won elections to form unions (the latest is Miami-Dade College).

The administration of Santa Fe is now seeking to block this right to vote for and decide for ourselves if we wish to form a union. The administration has stated that it is best if there are no entities in between the faculty and themselves. They have blocked us by hiring an OUTSIDE law firm to contest our right to vote. 

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The case for sanctuary

by Liz Ibarrola, Director of Immigration Concerns, Human Rights Coalition, Alachua County

On Wednesday April 24, Westminster Presbyterian Church welcomed Saoud Al-Ammari into sanctuary. The act, one with deep history and religious significance, is supported by a network of allies, organized under the auspices of the Human Rights Coalition of Alachua County. Those allies choose to support Saoud and Westminster because they share a fundamental belief that our community should be, and can be, a place where all people enjoy equal rights and are treated with equal dignity. 

Saoud entered sanctuary because his life is in danger. Having lost his student visa in recent weeks and with an ICE detainer hanging over his head, he knows that he could be removed to his home country, Qatar, at any time. While the Obama administration began the trend of indiscriminate deportations, this policy has been accelerated under the Trump White House, and immigrants without secure legal status are being deported under expedited procedures. The process from arrest to deportation can take place in a few days.

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Strong coalition forming around renters’ rights

by Sheila Payne, Jason Fults, Jesse Cosmee, James Thompson—ACLC Renters’ Rights Committee

Activists representing a broad informal coalition of renters’ rights advocates packed a Gainesville City Commission Rental Housing Subcommittee meeting with about forty people on April 16. 

About seven corporate landlord representatives attended. Those who spoke in favor of renters’ rights issues were in the same ratio. 

The Subcommittee working on this issue – Chair David Arreola and his fellow Commissioners Helen Warren and Adrian Hayes-Santos attended – drew from the energy in that room. Each elected official engaged directly with us. 

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May-June 2019 Gainesville Iguana

The May-June issue of the Iguana is now available, and you can access it here! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.