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Neo-Nazis protest outside a conservative student event in Tampa

 Demonstrators carry Nazi flags outside the Tampa Convention Center
Florida Holocaust Museum
Demonstrators carry Nazi flags outside the Tampa Convention Center

Several groups have condemned a demonstration by a handful of neo-Nazis Sunday outside a conservative student conference held at the Tampa Convention Center.

A small group of demonstrators flew flags with swastikas and the Nazi SS emblem after a larger group of people marched through downtown to the convention center to protest the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg firmly denounced the demonstration.

In a tweet, museum chairman Mike Igel said: “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.

“When antisemitic incidents occur that leverage chilling Nazi symbols, we are reminded of the importance of the Florida Holocaust Museum’s mission to preserve the memory of the Holocaust while educating future generations to prevent antisemitism and hatred of all kinds. We will not be deterred.”

The demonstration took place just hours before former President Donald Trump addressed the crowd inside the convention center. About 5,000 people attended the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, which featured several prominent conservative Republican politicians. Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the gathering Friday night.

Several published reports citing a spokesperson for Turning Point USA said the protesters were on public sidewalks outside the convention center and were not connected to the event.

Several politicians condemned the protesters.

“The reprehensible anti-Semitic hate and neo-Nazi demonstrations on display this weekend have no place anywhere in our state," wrote Congressman Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for governor. "Over the last year, Florida has seen a rise in anti-Semitic hate — anti-Semitic flyers left at hundreds of Florida homes, neo-Nazi demonstrations in Orlando, and now neo-Nazi flags waving outside a prominent Republican convention."

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is also running for governor, wrote: "You are not welcome here. You will not terrorize us. We will never stop condemning you, your white supremacy delusions, and your hate speech."

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.