Atlanta, GA – On Saturday, October 21, the Atlanta Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression held a panel speaking event at Adams Park Library hosting Laura Rodriguez of the Tampa 5 and building the struggle against political repression.
The Tampa 5 are five women who attended a Students for a Democratic Society protest at the University of South Florida (USF) in response to Governor DeSantis ending funding for diversity programs and cultural groups at state universities and banning the teaching of vital parts of Black history. USF police brutalized the protestors and arrested four people that day and put out a warrant for the fifth. They are now facing up to ten years in prison.
Guest panelists spoke on behalf of Dissenters at Georgia State University, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at GSU, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Panelists connected the struggles each of them are involved in, including the struggle against Cop City, student activism for Palestine, and the fight against DeSantis’s racist laws. They spoke of the 61 Stop Cop City activists in a RICO indictment, GSU administration’s attacks on SJP and other student groups, the 23 anti-war activists who beat their grand jury repression, and the case of the Tampa 5.
“We organize and we know that the only way out of this is to continue to organize because at every step of the way they have tried to silence us,” said Laura Rodriguez, one of the Tampa 5, “I see the light at the end of the tunnel and the way through it is to organize and organize with people who will show and give solidarity. Not just in words but by our actions.”
Taylor Cook, a member of the FRSO stated, “I know for a fact that just like the Anti-War 23, the Tally 19, the 60 people here in Atlanta with RICO charges, the ASF 3, and so many others that the Tampa 5 will see their charges dropped. Despite how badly Ron DeSantis wants it, the Tampa 5 will not be spending a second in jail, they will be found not guilty, and it will be a victory to them, but also a victory to the people’s movements across the country.”
The panel ended with solidarity speeches with the Tampa 5 from groups attending, vowing to continue the fight to get the charges dropped. Laura Rodriguez urged those attending to send letters to State Attorney Suzan Lopez demanding that she drop the bogus charges on the Tampa 5, and to organize here in Georgia against attacks on diversity in higher education and student activists.