Tallahassee, FL – On August 9, Tallahassee students and community members gathered outside the Leon County Clerk of Courts office to show solidarity with the Tampa 5. They demanded the dismissal of the charges against them, pointing out that the Tampa 5 were due to appear in a Tampa court that day.
Regina Joseph of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization said, “I know what it is like for the Tampa 5. The Tally19 were arrested just down the block. There were 100 protesters but 300 police officers from the Florida State University Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, and several other local police departments. The police, clad in military gear, subjected us to brutal repression.”
Joseph continued, “People like you facilitated my release the night I was arrested. You all called in and clogged the lines of Leon County Sheriff’s Office. It is why my husband, who was also arrested, was free. I avoided imprisonment thanks to your support from Tallahassee and the entire country. This action is also why the state decided to drop the felony charge against Ben Grant. You, the people, protect us. You have my back, and I have your back. And we have Tampa 5’s back. “
Participants of the rally held signs that read “Defend diversity,” “Down with DeSantis” and “Black education matters.”
Chants included, “When organizers are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” and “Protesting is not a crime, drop the charges now,” among a dozen chants.
The Tampa 5 is a group of students and campus workers from the University of South Florida currently facing up to ten years in prison for participating in a rally against restrictions on DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) in higher education. They were all outspoken members of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society, making them clear targets for political repression. One member of the Tampa 5, Chrisley Carpio, has already been fired from her job at USF due to the incident.
Tallahassee Community Action Committee, FSU Students for a Democratic Society, FSU Graduate Assistants Union, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization organized the event. These groups are part of an extensive and growing list of major organizations that have spoken out against the trumped-up charges brought against the Tampa 5.
Delilah Pierre, president of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, said, “If the Tampa 5 are found guilty, we’re all found guilty. We must stand up with the Tampa 5 to make sure we can retain our democratic right to protest and organize against Florida’s racist, anti-LGBTQ and anti-women attacks.”
The next protest is set to occur in December on Tampa 5’s next court date.