Grand Rapids, MI – On August 9, a group of activists held signs in support of the Tampa 5 protesters at a busy intersection in downtown Grand Rapids. They joined a nationwide call to stand in solidarity with the five individuals – the Tampa 5 – who police attacked during a protest on the University of South Florida’s campus last March. After the arrests, Florida prosecutors charged the Tampa 5 with felonies. The Emergency Committee to Defend the Tampa 5 called for groups across the U.S. to show public support on August 9, coinciding with their court appearance.
The Grand Rapids Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (GRAARPR) organized the local event. Protesters stood at the corner of the intersection of Fulton Street and Division Avenue, holding signs with slogans demanding justice for the Tampa 5 and supporting diversity, equity and inclusion.
Their chants included “Drop the charges now!” and “Money for education, not for racist legislation!” The group raised public awareness of the attack on civil liberties.
Kellan Martin said, “It is important to make people aware of the persecution of the Tampa 5 because it shows a staggering acceleration into fascist-like behavior in Florida that is also spreading throughout the U.S.”
The group noted the charges on local activists after protests for Patrick Lyoya, who former GRPD officer Christopher Schurr murdered in April 2022. Martin commented on the trend of U.S. state and local governments using police force to quell dissent. The Tampa 5 was protesting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ attacks on diversity programs and higher education before the police ambush.
GRAARPR plans to continue its solidarity with the Tampa 5 and others facing state repression and violence. GRAARPR’s local focus now is pressing Kent County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Becker’s office and the court system to move forward with the trial of police officer Christopher Schurr, seeking justice for Patrick Lyoya and his family.