Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Gainesville for two different press conferences on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Alachua County Rep. Kat Cammack and more government representatives held a press conference at the Clark Plantation Wedding Venue in Newberry, Florida. The representatives spoke to a group of over 200 Gainesville city employees from different city agencies, including Gainesville Police Department, Gainesville Fire Rescue and more. The group of employees filed a lawsuit against the City of Gainesville for mandating vaccines for all its employees. All speakers spoke out in support of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. DeSantis also visited Emerson Alumni Hall to talk about UF's top five public university ranking.
Gator Humans vs. Zombies hosted the Escape the Underworld Lock-in Game, a Greek mythology themed game of nerf tag, on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Zombies could turn humans by tagging them with their hand or a power-up, while humans could stun zombies temporarily with a nerf gun or other valid ammunition. The rules briefing started after 9 p.m. at Weil Hall. The game started after 10 p.m. and lasted until around 1 a.m., when they regrouped to start a second match. There were several puzzles for humans to solve set up outside, with pieces hidden inside Florida Gymnasium. Only up to 90 people were allowed inside at a time. Members of the club were at Florida Gymnasium setting up for the game since 11 a.m., Logan Kraus, a member of the club for five years, said. About 250 people showed up for the first game of the night. They were required to bring proof of vaccination and wear a mask the whole time. Kraus said it was the biggest game since 2013. The club was given a $10,000 budget by UF, which funds the lock-in game and a week of mini challenges, among other things.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, city residents and university members across Gainesville commemorated what happened on 9/11, 20 years ago. UF Young Americans for Freedom planted 2,977 flags in the ground to represent the lives lost. About 50 people gathered at Reserve Park to share stories about how 9/11 impacted them. Collegiate Veterans Society members, firefighters and friends met at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to climb the steps to honor those who climbed the tower stairs and saved thousands of lives.
The family and friends of Akeem Thompson, better known as DJ Terrah from 98.9 Jamz, came together at Bo Diddley Plaza on Sept. 4, 2021, to honor his life after he died of COVID-19. Local DJs played music, local pastors prayed, officials designated a day in Thompson's honor and free COVID-19 tests were offered onsite.
Erica Thompson gave birth inside a jail cell at Alachua County Jail. Shortly after, baby Ava died. Dignity Power, GoDDsville and Florida Prisoner Solidarity organized the Justice for Heaven and Ava protest to bring awareness of what happened. Protestors blocked Northeast 39th Avenue right by the entrance to the jail. Many different chants were started throughout the protest, including "It is our duty to stand up and protect our people!" and "We have nothing to lose but our chains!"
United Faculty of Florida and UF Graduate Assistants United members gathered at Tigert Hall on Friday, August 20, 2021 to protest the lack of COVID-19 precautions in place for the upcoming fall semester at UF . UFF and UF-GAU brought a list of four demands to the protest: Three weeks of online classes as soon as possible to allow time for students to get vaccinated Vaccines required and twice weekly testing for those with exemptions Mask mandate for all indoor activities and large outdoor activities Honest and detailed COVID-19 statistics, including daily updates Several speakers talked during the protest, including Gainesville City Commissioner David Arreola, Alachua County Education Association President Carmen Ward, UF professors and graduate assistants.
On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, more than 200 UF students and Gainesville residents gathered on the corner of West University Avenue and Northwest 13th Street to show solidarity with Palestinians during the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Solidarity with Palestine protest was organized by UF Students for Justice in Palestine. Protestors chanted "Free, Free, Palestine," listened to poetry and speeches, sang liberation songs and hoisted signs like "occupation is a crime" and "defund Israeli apartheid." After about an hour, a small group of counter-protestors gathered across the street. One of their signs read "Israel is not the oppressor." The pro-Palestine protest continued even after the sun went down and lasted for over two hours. (Photos by Mingmei Li)
The Spring 2021 semester brought changes to campus and the Gainesville community. Amid the ongoing pandemic, relaxed mandates and the ongoing adjustment to life with COVID, UF students and community members continued to organize and raise awareness for social issues in Gainesville. (Photos by Chasity Maynard and Julia Cooper)
THE CORNER OF SUPPORT - For panhandlers like Mike and Sheldon, their days of standing on Gainesville’s medians may be coming to an end. City officials concerned about pedestrian safety have proposed rules banning people from standing that close to traffic while soliciting donations. Mike and Sheldon share the intersection at SW 13th Street and SW 16th Avenue to make ends meet. Despite the hard times, they count on each other for friendship and support. Photos by Kasamba Kokayi, 21, a former UF journalism major who graduated in December 2020.
UF's Magic the Gatorling club meets every Wednesday in the Reitz Student Union to play "Magic: The Gathering" while following social distancing regulations.