By Committee to Defend the Tampa 5
On March 6, 2023, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held a protest to fight back against DeSantis’s anti-diversity bill HB 999/SB 266 at the University of South Florida. Protesters were met with violence from the cops including being punched, kicked, and groped. Gia Davila, Laura Rodriguez, Chrisley Carpio, and Jeanie Kida were arrested, and held in the back of hot cop cars, as the police deliberated over what they could possibly charge them with. They were originally charged with 1 felony and 2-3 misdemeanors each, with a bail of around $3,000 per person. 30 days after the initial arrest Lauren Pineiro was notified via email from the University that academic and criminal charges were being filed against her, as well. A warrant was put out for her arrest, and she too had to pay a near $3,000 bail when turning herself into jail.
Some of those arrested lost their jobs, including campus worker and AFSCME union member Chrisley Carpio, who was fired by USF despite maintaining a spotless record during her seven-year career. Others experienced threats of expulsion and talk of not being allowed to graduate, despite video evidence that clearly shows the police as the aggressors. Later, the university released a report comparing the original student protest to an active shooter situation on campus, falsely claiming that procedures for an active shooter situation had to be used in response to the student demonstration.
After the community organized and the Tampa 5 spoke out against these false charges, they were given an unconfirmed pretrial intervention, but only if the Tampa 5 wrote apology letters to the police officers who attacked and groped them and if the police accepted it. This was considered unacceptable and rejected by the heroic young women who suffered the unprovoked attack for simply exercising their freedom of speech. In response, the state doubled the felony counts on three of the five who are now facing up to 10 years in prison for using their First Amendment right to protest.
The trial of the Tampa 5 is scheduled to begin December 12.
For more information or to make a donation go to defendthetampa5.org. Have your organization/union pass a resolution of protest against these frame-ups and send them to the Florida State Attorney and Prosecutor – go to “Take Action” at the website above.
Reprinted from defendthetampa5.org