WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Rallies were held at universities and high schools across Florida in protest of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent decisions targeting education in the state.

7News cameras captured students at Florida International University in West Miami-Dade as they marched and held up signs, Thursday afternoon.

Participants chanted “We won’t let you run our school,” “Trans rights are human rights” and “Ron DeSantis has got to go.”

Demonstrators expressed their disapproval of DeSantis’ proposals to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at Florida’s public universities and colleges.

Protesters said those proposals are scary and hurtful, and they are hoping that the governor hears their message.

“We have power in numbers. We’re strong, we’re young, and we’re ready to stand up for what we believe in,” said FIU student Ness Cruz.

Thursday’s protests aimed to send a message to DeSantis.

“You are never going to silence us. We are always going to be here no matter what, and no matter what you try to do to silence us, we’re always going to be here,” said Nekorrah Katako, a student at Nova Southeastern University. “We’re here to live, to be happy, and that’s all we’re asking for.”

The local protests are part of a statewide college campus walkout in response to DeSantis and his efforts to eliminate those programs.

He made the announcement on Jan. 31.

“We are also going to eliminate all DEI and [critical race theory] bureaucracies in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “No funding, and that will wither on the vine.”

The University of Florida in Gainesville also held an event. Cellphone video captured demonstrators holding signs.

Students at local high schools also took a stand against the governor’s decision to block an Advanced Placement African American studies course.

At Plantation High School, several hundred students walked onto the football field.

“In protest of Ron DeSantis and the racist, fascistic nonsense that he is doing as governor of the state of Florida,” said Plantation High student Eric Franzblau.

Back at FIU, students marched with pride flags and signs while they chanted “Can’t ban us.” They were encouraged to wear black for the rally.

“We’re here because DEI programs mean everything to me, mean everything to the students that are here,” said Kaily LaChapelle, president of FIU’s Pride Student Union. “A lot of people are scared right now, but more than anything, I have hope because, again, we are so much stronger.”

Students said they plan to take their protests to the Florida State Capitol when the state Legislature convenes in March.

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