CoFFE’s first rally deemed a success; promises future eventsOn a hot and humid summer evening, under threatening skies, a newly formed coalition of equal rights activists drew more than 100 people in a rally to censure Allen West for his hostile remarks about the gay community.The Coalition for Fairness and Equality (CoFFE) held its first rally Monday, August 8, at City Hall Square in WiltonManors, with speaker after speaker taking Congressman Allen West to task for his words that ‘denigrate the LGBT community,’ according to keynote speaker Stuart Milk, nephew of legendary San Francisco gay activist Harvey Milk.
Milk pointed out that the comments currently being made by West are unacceptable.
“We have a message for Allen West: We’re not going to tolerate your hatred,” said Milk, to a supportive crowd of nearly 125 people. Many of them held placards with quotes lifted from West’s own talks.
Dean Trantalis, a Wilton Manors attorney, moderated the event, which was hosted by a bipartisan coalition of activists who crossed party lines, as representatives of both the Log CabinRepublicans and Democratic clubs spoke. One speaker, Jowharah Sanders censured West as a “bully…who preaches hateful things.”
The chairman of the Broward Democratic party, Mitch Ceasar, urged the gathering to mobilize their forces to defeatWest in his 2012 re-election bid, stating that “no one deserves Allen West.” One of the already announced opponents of West,
Democratic primary candidate Patrick Murphy, attended the meeting, and was greeted warmly by the crowd.
Allen West declined an invitation to the event.
West’s Chief of Staff Jonathan Blyth responded in a letter and claimed West couldn’t be expected to attend an “11th hour” event. However, CoFFE, made sure to organize the event at the same time West was suppose to be in the city anyway for the Wilton Manors Business Association’s August 8 meeting, which was cancelled.
The letter went on to say “…the Congressman does not adhere to every group that requests his attendance at a rally on a street corner.”
As the crowd gathered and flowed into the street, a police presence was necessary to control traffic flow. Many of the drivers honked their horns in support of the crowd, seen holding up signs mocking the words of Allen West, such as “I am against inclusion,’ or another which read ‘Gay marriage will lead to the end of society.’