A community-organized “Take a Knee For Justice” protest is being planned for outside Camping World Stadium next Sunday afternoon to coincide with the singing of the national anthem inside for the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando.
The National Action Network Central Florida – with a number of other partner organizations – is planning to hold a rally in front of the Orlando Police Department headquarters shortly before the NFL game begins, with several speakers.
That is to be followed by a march the three blocks down South Street from the police headquarters to Camping World Stadium. There, according to Lawanna Gelzer, president of NAN Central Florida Chapter, protesters plan to take a knee as the national anthem begins inside.
The game is set for a 3 p.m. kickoff.
In a news release, Gelzer said she and other organizers hope the rally will capture “the energy of nationwide protests into a direct call to end police brutality, and to bridge the gap of mistrust between community of colors and law enforcement.” Speakers also expect to cover such topics as racism, gentrification, environmental justice, immigration issues, post-conviction rights, voter suppression and LGBTQ inclusivity, the release said.
The other announced partners include the Fight Back Coalition, the Advocacy, Action & Accountability Alliance, Women of Color Leadership Coalition, Community Empowerment Partnership, and Believers Outreach Ministries, in solidarity with other civic and Civil Rights organizations such as Black Lives Matter, along with the families of victims of excessive force.
Gelzer, a longtime activist and bee in the bonnet of city officials and the Orlando police, said she was “set off” to protest outside the stadium after she watched Orange County, with the city’s blessing, approve deals that provide $3 million in tourist tax money to support the game for two years, while requests for city investments in the east-side neighborhoods around the stadium have not been filled. When asked if the rally, parade, and protest might draw a response from the city, the police, or others, she said, “I sure hope so.”