Free speech vs. hate speech: Holocaust Center to host panel

By John W. Davis, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, August 18, 2017, 5:42 PM EDT

The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida is hosting a panel to talk about how concerned citizens can safely speak out against hate speech.

  • Protest: Free Speech versus Hate Speech panel next week
  • Holocaust Center had to move it to a larger facility
  • Panel discussion will talk about safely speaking out

It’s a legitimate concern after the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“What happens if Charlottesville comes to our town or to one of our college campuses. What is our response?" asked Pam Kancher, the executive director of the Holocaust Center.

The panel Tuesday night is called "Protest: Free Speech versus Hate Speech."

“We had planned the program in October, and really in response to the events in Charlottesville decided to move it up," Kancher said.

The panel discussion has already been moved from its original venue to a larger location because of the overwhelming response from the community.

Organizers are now preparing for hundreds of people to attend and participate in the discussion.

“We all have to speak out. History shows what happens if we don’t," shared Terrance Hunter, who serves as the program coordinator for the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida.

Hunter said it is a much-needed discussion about the tools needed for peaceful protests, and how to de-escalate a situation that’s getting out of hand.

“How do you have non-violent protest? How do you not confront the protesters? We’ve had experience with that on our campus in the past, and the instruction that the FBI always gave us was stay in your office and don’t confront," Kancher explained.

Community leaders say now is the time for action.

"A Nazi flag represents hate. It represents terror and to many people a Confederate Flag has that same impact," Kancher added.

“There is no time. We cannot wait. We must have these conversations now," Hunter said.

The "Protest: Free Speech v. Hate Speech" panel discussion will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22 at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando at 851 N Maitland Avenue in Maitland.

Admission is free.

Panelists include:

  1. Terri Day, Professor at Barry University's Law School
  2. Mitchell Bloomer, Resource Teacher at the Holocaust Center
  3. Rachel Allen, Peace & Justice Institute Coordinator at Valencia College Peace and Justice Institute
  4. Angela King, Former Skinhead & Deputy Director/Co-Founder of Life After Hate
  5. Chief John Mina, Orlando Police Department