“As the Berlin Wall came down, so can Castillo de San Marcos.”
While actions pop off across world declaring solidarity with with Idle No More movement which began in Canada, activists with the American Indian Movement and United Urban Warrior Society of Florida, Everglades Earth First! and others organizing the “Do Something Right for Once” campaign, plan to shut down the Castillo de San Marcos today in St. Augustine.
The invitation reads: “3:00 P.M. – Meet at Castillo de San Marcos near the entrance to the fort and prison close to the ticket both. Look for “Do Something Right for Once” sign.”
The day of action is also calling for the removal of Spanish War Criminals Juan Ponce de Leon and Pedro Menendez from the City of St. Augustine’s 450th Commemoration calendar of events planned between now and September 2015.
The United Urban Warrior Society of Florida released a statement earlier this year regarding their participation in challenging 450th Commemoration events saying the are “dismayed that during such a enlightened period of history when Florida, the United States and much of the globe struggles with a failing economy, that the City of Saint Augustine would even consider spending thousands of dollars commemorating,not the founding of their city but the involvement of Pedro Menendez and Juan Ponce de Leon in the history of St. Augustine and Florida.
“Those funds which could be better spent in the community in ways not offensive to the first citizens of this land.That Federal Funds are being used to commemorate two of the first invaders of Indigenous people while the Federal Government owes billions of dollars to the tribes is reprehensible…
“We ask that the City of Saint Augustine do the right thing for once and show consideration for the feelings of Florida’s first citizens and display some much needed fiscal responsibility to their own community.”
According to the City of St. Augustine: “On September 8, 2015, the City of St. Augustine, will commemorate its 450th anniversary as the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the United States. Quite a feat.”
But the commemoration will not be just one day; it is extending over a four year period which started in 2012 with the bicentennial of the Spanish Constitution and is continuing into 2013 with the 500th anniversary of the founding of Florida by Juan Ponce de Leon, culminating with St. Augustine’s anniversary in 2015.
The City’s most recent draft of the 450th Commemoration Strategic Master Plan can be viewed here.
But you don’t have to go to all the St. Augustine to register your disgust. In a very telling recent news article, Kerri Post, a deputy secretary of state, told the panel that all 67 Florida counties will have events.
Post said some 1,400 corporate, government and cultural partners have joined the “Viva Florida 500” campaign (which is the branding for the plans).
State officials told a Senate committee last week Juan Ponce de Leon’s landing in Florida in 1513 could have a billion-dollar payoff for Floridians. Dozens of events planned around the state will recall Ponce de Leon’s landing.
“It gives us a real opportunity to expand and market what people think of when they think of Florida,” Will Seccombe, president of Visit Florida, told the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. Ha! That’s funny. Funny, like a Carl Hiaasen novel. Its gets sicker.
State officials are also “cautiously optimistic” that King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain will visit Florida in the coming year.
In a repulsive side note to the whole thing, when Gov. Rick Scott attempted to extend an invitation last May to the royal couple during his visit to Madrid. He opened the exchange by repeatedly asking the king about his controversial elephant-hunting expedition to Botswana – a trip reviled by Spanish media as a wasteful junket at a time the nation’s economy was crumbling.
But, we digress…
Back to today’s event. The schedule looks like this:
At 3:15 P.M folks will Encircle the Castillo de San Marcos “with a unified vision that the fort and prison will be removed releasing the traumatic ills of the past.”
The “Do Something Right for Once” campaign is clearly a part of the growing international indigenous movement, connecting the dots between critical issues of sovereignty, solidarity and ecology. That sentiment is reflected in a statement about today’s global call to action:
“Idle No More activities will not stop until we reach our two goals: Indigenous sovereignty (Nation to Nation relationship) and protection of the land and water (social and environmental Sustainability). Once we reach these goals, we will continue to work to protect them. In essence, Idle No More is here to stay.”
See you in the streets!
In other stories of Seminole resistance past and present: