May 16, 2023
From Fight Back News
Call in to demand drop the charges against the Tampa 5: 813-272-5400 then press

Fight Back! News is circulating the following call to action from Students for a Democratic Society

Call to Action:

1. We encourage everyone to call into the state attorney’s office on the day of the Tampa 5’s first court appearance, Wednesday, May 17th, 2023, before 11am Eastern time. 813-272-5400, then press zero.

2. Please sign the petition to drop the charges against the Tampa 5:

On March 6th, 2023, 4 students and workers were arrested as well as brutalized by University of South Florida police during a protest against a bill that would gut Florida higher education. In an act of vicious repression, 5 protesters are now facing 8 felony counts, along with several misdemeanors. 3 of the 5 face 10 years in prison, and the other 2 face 5 years. It is clear that the governor-appointed Florida state attorney, Susan Lopez, wants to make an example of students who protest Ron DeSantis and put these protesters in prison. National SDS demands unequivocally that these charges be dropped. We need to call Prosecutor Justin Diaz and SA Susan Lopez tomorrow, May 17th, the date of the 5’s first court appearance, and say, “Drop the Charges!”

On March 6th, 2023, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society held a protest calling on university administration to stand up to HB 999, legislation passed by the Florida state government that bans ethnic and gender studies in universities as well as cultural organizations such as the Black Student Union. Instead of supporting their students in this uncertain time, university administrators called USFPD to arrest and brutalize protesters. They were grabbed and not just handled but even groped by officers. Some were beaten with closed fists and grabbed with excessive force. Others were body slammed and their feet swept with enough force to knock shoes off. Officers isolated the apprehended students from the rest of the student protesters so as to be out of view. Officers deliberated what they could be charged with during that time, so as to rationalize what they could pin the students with and get their stories straight; the arrests were, after all, unlawful. Students were then taken to the Orient Road jail where they spent six more hours.

The National SDS calls for the defense of the First Amendment right to assemble and to free speech on college campuses by supporting the Tampa 5 against DeSantis. We need everyone to call in on May 17th, the date of the 5’s first court appearance, to tell the prosecutor to drop the charges. We ask everyone to sign and spread the linked petition both as individuals and as organizations endorsing this campaign. Supporters are urged to follow National SDS social media in order to participate in call-in and email campaigns, which have been demonstrated as effective in this situation. We need participation at a large scale across the whole country to protect the Tampa 5 and our rights. We need to be free to protest attacks on campus diversity.