Waving swastika, SS flags, Neo-Nazis protest Tampa conservative convention

The extremist group waved swastika flags and antisemitic flags during the conservative movement’s conference in Tampa, Florida.

 A visitor at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, examines a box car used by the Nazi's to transport Jews to the death camps. The Florida Holocaust Museum sharply condemned demonstrations Saturday, July 23, 2022, at the Tampa Convention Center where a group of neo-fascists waved (photo credit: TAMPA BAY TIMES/TNS)
A visitor at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, examines a box car used by the Nazi's to transport Jews to the death camps. The Florida Holocaust Museum sharply condemned demonstrations Saturday, July 23, 2022, at the Tampa Convention Center where a group of neo-fascists waved
(photo credit: TAMPA BAY TIMES/TNS)

Neo-Nazis demonstrated outside Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit on Sunday in Tampa, Florida, waving flags and signs with Nazi symbols.

On the second day of the conference, over 100 neo-Nazis marched from Lykes Gaslight Square Park to the Tampa Convention Center.

A photographer from Tampa’s local Creative Loafing newspaper captured the group flaunting signs reading “DeSantis Country,” along with flags of swastikas. They also distributed flyers by the Goyim Defense League (GDL – a parody of the ADL: Anti-Defamation League) reading, “Every single aspect of abortion is Jewish.”

"Florida continues to see a rise neo-Nazi activity yet is not doing much to stop it. Is it going to take someone getting hurt for authorities to act?" Liora Rez, executive director of Stopantisemitism.org told The Jerusalem Post.

Is there any connection?

 A protestor carries a white supremacist and antisemitic sign outside the Kenosha County Courthouse on the second day of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US, November 17, 2021.  (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN) A protestor carries a white supremacist and antisemitic sign outside the Kenosha County Courthouse on the second day of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US, November 17, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

According to a spokesperson representing Turning Point USA (TPUSA), Andrew Kolvet, there is no affiliation that connects it to the neo-Nazi group and activities.

“They have nothing to do with TPUSA, our event, or our students. Our students took the mature route and vacated the space the Nazi flag holders were in. Once that happened, they left,” Kolvet explained, saying event participants argued with the Neo-Nazis, if they engaged with them at all.

“Tampa was founded on diversity and inclusion and I’ll be dammed if Nazis and Proud Boys waltz through our city and spew such repulsive speech,” State Senator Janet Cruz said. “Words have power and we will NOT accept this in our backyard. All of us must stand up and make clear that we reject this bigoted display.”

'An indefensible act of hatred'

Florida Holocaust Museum chairman Michael Igel came out with a statement labeling the event as “an indefensible act of hatred,” pointing out the threat such demonstrations pose to Jews overall.

“Openly and proudly displaying genocidal symbols is a direct threat to the Jewish community,” he said. “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.”

“Openly and proudly displaying genocidal symbols is a direct threat to the Jewish community. 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.”

Chairman of The Florida Holocaust Museum, Michael Igel

The GDL is an Internet-based network of individuals who connect through blatant antisemitism. They are connected to a handful of organizers and public figures, and have thousands of followers online.

According to the ADL, the GDL is responsible for more than 74 antisemitic incidents since 2021, primarily in California, Florida, Colorado and New York.

The protest was staged amid a recent rise in antisemitism, specifically in Florida where attacks have risen by 50% over the last year.

Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit, which was held from July 22-24, featured thousands of participants from all over the US, ranging in ages from 15-26. Its keynote speakers included former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, political commentator Kayleigh McEnany, Florida Sen. Rick Scott and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. 

Michael Starr contributed to this report.