Orlando, FL – On Saturday, November 11, around 20 community members gathered at the Orlando Public Library for a discussion panel featuring the Tampa 5 as part of their national speaking tour. The event was hosted by Orlando for Gender Equality and the Florida chapter of the New Era Young Lords. The panel’s speakers consisted of Laura Rodriguez, Gia Davila, Lauren Pineiro and Chrisley Carpio of the Tampa 5.
The Tampa 5 are five protesters who were arrested, brutalized and assaulted by campus police during a protest on March 6 at the University of South Florida against Governor DeSantis’ racist attacks on diversity programs, multicultural student groups, and ethnic studies. They are facing trumped-up felony charges and up to ten years in prison for exercising their right to free speech and standing up for public education.
“They brutalized us simply because we stood up against Ron DeSantis,” said Lauren Pineiro.
On what motivated the protest that took place on March 6, Laura Rodriguez said, “Every diversity program we have ever won has come from the students going out and demanding it,” adding, “Chicano studies exists because people demanded it.”
The Tampa 5 speakers emphasized the necessity of continuing to stand up and fight back against all forms of political repression, such as efforts to criminalize protesting. Many different sectors of Florida’s population have come under assault from DeSantis and the legislature, including Black people, immigrants, LGTBQ people, and workers.
“Attacks on diversity, attacks on LGBTQ people and attacks on immigrants are attacks on everyone,” said Gia Davila.
The Tampa 5 are wrapping up their speaking tour in their home state of Florida and are gearing up for trial proceedings to begin on December 12. They encourage people to pack the court in support if possible and to hold solidarity actions across the country. Follow @justiceforthetampa5 on Instagram for updates.