Students demand removal of the statue of slaveholder Francis Eppes.
(Fight Back! News/Staff)
Tallahassee, FL – On July 4, over 70 students protested in front of the Westcott administration building at Florida State University to demand the removal of the statue of Francis Eppes, a large Leon County slave-owner who had funded the Confederacy. The protest was called by Tallahassee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), who also issued demands for the removal of Eppes from the criminology building and segregationist Doak Campbell from the stadium.
Students, holding signs reading, “No slave-owners on campus” and “Eppes must fall,” marched to the new location of the Eppes statue. An American flag was draped over the statue with the names of victims of police murder, including Mychael Johnson, Wilbon Woodard and Tony McDade in Tallahassee.
Student protests had led FSU President John Thrasher to call an advisory panel which led to the removal of the Francis Eppes statue from the Westcott plaza in 2018, but in the summer of 2019 the statue was returned to a nearby area of campus.
“Taking down the statue of a racist slave owner is the bare minimum that FSU could do for our community but especially out of respect for our Black student body,” said Valentina Beron, incoming SDS president. “As long as the statue of Francis Eppes stands at FSU, it represents the culture of white supremacy that is still deeply ingrained and being upheld by this institution today.”
Students also issued calls for FSU to cut ties with the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD), to place FSUPD under community control and to increase Black enrollment through affirmative action.
“Francis Eppes used money from his slave-catching militia to fund one of the first police departments in the country, TPD. To this day TPD continues to subjugate Black people, most recently with the murders of Mychael Johnson and Tony McDade,” said Regina Joseph of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee.
The students said that they would continue struggling until their demands are met by FSU.