Anti-circumcision rally sweeps through Turlington Plaza

Jonathan Friedman, a 31-year-old activist, chants “I want my foreskin back” Monday morning at the intersection of 13th Street and University Avenue. Friedman is a member of the Bloodstained Men, an activist group that has been traveling across the United States to protest the circumcision of boys at birth.  

Galvin Alves walked through a screaming group of protestors in cowboy hats and blood-stained white outfits when he got out of class.

The 18-year-old UF nuclear engineering freshman said he felt creeped out when he saw about 15 protesters holding up signs reading “Stop cutting baby penises” and “Nobody wants less penis” when he was going through Turlington Plaza Monday afternoon.

Alves said it wasn’t necessary to protest circumcision when there are other, more prominent issues such as sexual slavery, discrimination and global warming.

“There’s just many things that could take precedence over this, but instead we have a rally about circumcision,” he said.

The protesters came from a nationwide group called the Bloodstained Men & Their Friends. Protesters were also on the corner of West University Avenue and Southwest 13th Street. The group stopped at UF on the 16th day of its 22-day tour, said 30-year-old David Atkinson, of Boston, one of the protesters.

Each year, the group partakes in two or three tours that each last a couple of weeks. They visit about 60 cities per year, Atkinson said. The group visited Florida State University last week as part of its tour.

“We like to protest at universities and bring awareness because cutting the foreskin on a man’s penis is decided by their parents,” Atkinson said. “Since current students are the next generation of parents, it’s important to bring awareness to them now rather than later.”

Atkinson said he had a circumcision when he was a baby but wished it wasn’t done. He said medical practice today depicts the male genitalia without foreskin in textbooks and a majority of doctors themselves don’t have their foreskin, so they don’t understand its full purpose.

“This body part has been removed from the education system of North America, and this is why the doctors have no idea what they’re causing,” he said.

Tanya Ma, a 23-year-old protestor from Grand Rapids, Michigan, described herself as an “inactivist,” meaning she believes in autonomy for all children and the right to keep the bodies people are born with.

“These are my people, this is what I should be doing,” Ma said. “This is the human rights movement of 2018 that no one talks about.”

Both Atkinson and Ma emphasized the protest, which is against altering of a child’s body without their personal consent, is nonpartisan and is not against a specific religion.

Protesting against circumcision is an attack against Judaism, said Colin Silverman, a 22-year-old UF accounting junior and president of the UF Jewish Student Union.

“Spreading this message should be illegal, as it is spreading the message that what Jews find holy should be illegal,” Silverman said.

It’s a sensitive time for Jewish community, Silverman said, citing the Pittsburgh shooting that killed 11 people and injured six at the Tree of Life synagogue.

“I find it as a personal attack on me, my religion and my culture,” Silverman said.

Contact Dana Cassidy at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @danacassidy_

Dana Cassidy is an 18-year-old UF journalism freshman and city commission beat writer at The Independent Florida Alligator. Outside of writing she loves fitness, dance, overweight pets, bad reality TV and drinking excessive amounts of coffee.