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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Handful protests shutdown at GOP’s Tallahassee office

TALLAHASSEE — So goes the loneliness of the almost-solitary protester.

Tallahassee has seen one major protest this year: the 31-day, ’round-the clock takeover of the Capitol by activists upset over the George Zimmerman verdict and the state’s Stand Your Ground law.

On Friday, however, a handful of Florida State University students decided to sit in front of Republican Party of Florida headquarters — “Release Our Government” signs in hand — to demonstrate against the federal government shutdown.

Unfortunately, the building was almost empty, as most were in the Orlando area getting ready for this weekend’s annual Statesman’s Dinner.

That didn’t deter David Eskin, a political science junior from Miami, from showing his disapproval. He blames Republicans for the shutdown, although he recognizes both parties’ intransigence.

“I think their strategy” — tying the shutdown to Republican efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act — “shows a contempt for the democratic process,” said Eskin, 21.

Unlike the Dream Defenders, the group behind the Capitol sit-in, Eskin and three others weren’t giving speeches in front of a bank of news cameras or sitting down with civil-rights pioneer Jesse Jackson.

Hobe Robin, a 19-year-old sophomore, did want his voice to be heard, though.

“Like on game day, you can’t hear one person in the stadium cheering, but you can hear the crowd’s roar for miles,” he said.

The party’s building is on the edge of downtown on a quiet side street that sees little traffic. Eskin said a couple of people waved while driving by, though one person inside the building shouted, “Go home, hippies.”

“I don’t think we self-identify as hippies,” said Ryan Barnes, a 21-year-old accounting senior from Miami.

A Republican Party of Florida spokeswoman declined comment on the protest.

Eskin said he’ll be back next Friday in front of the Capitol. He’s fine with counter-protesters, if any show.

“It’s the sign of a healthy democracy,” he said.

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