During the preparation for the Florida Experience Sharing Conference, we applied for proclamations from city governments in nearby cities and received warm responses. We also got active support from the University of South Florida where the conference was held. Within three days after we delivered the information package we received a response from the city council of St. Petersburg. City council member Mr. James S. Bennett told us that he would come to our conference in person to present the proclamations.

On the morning of December 29, the Experience Sharing Conference was formally started, with over 600 practitioners from many countries attending. After brief opening remarks by practitioners, Mr. James Bennett came on to the stage and presented the proclamations. In his speech he highly praised the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance advocated by Falun Dafa practitioners. He said "Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance is why you have over 100 million practitioners. Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance is what we need, and what this nation and people need. We need it especially when we had the terrorist attack on September 11, and tolerance will help this country resolve all the issues with the terrorists and other nations." He further said, "I would like to comment more on the principle of tolerance.áI would like to say more about it from my personal experience.áYears ago, I was assigned to a school where hazing was practiced prevalently.áHazing is a practice when seniors physically abuse freshmen for no apparent reason other than to make freshmen conform to the rules or codes laid out by seniors.áIt is definitely against the principle of tolerance.áI and other people were able to completely eradicate the hazing practice."á He expressed that he wished more people practiced Falun Dafa and he would urge the citizens of St. Petersburg to learn and support Falun Dafa.á He felt regret that such an important conference was not held in his city and hoped the next conference would be held there.

After the speech, Mr. Bennett presented two proclamations. He proclaimed the two days of the conference as Mr. Li Hongzhi Days and the week of December 29 to January 4, 2002 as Falun Dafa Week. He thought it commendable that Mr. Li Hongzhi has advocated compassion, tolerance and peaceful resolution of the violent persecution of Falun Dafa by the Chinese government.

After Mr. Bennett issued the proclamations, practitioners presented him with Falun Dafa books and exercise videos in appreciation of the city's support.

Mr. Bennett gives a speech Mr. Bennett presents the proclamations Mr. Bennett is photographed with practitioners