Tampa, FL – On February 6, Tampa community members packed the North Tampa branch library for a Black History Month panel hosted by the Tampa district of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). The panel discussed the demands of African Americans, in Tampa and across the country, in the struggle against racism, imperialism and national oppression, especially talking about the struggles against police brutality and for community control of the police.
“The epidemic of police violence shows the need for Black liberation. If we’re going to be able to confront this thing head on, we need to develop better institutions for the people. Independent counsel for the Citizens Review Board is only the first step,” said Tampa Bay Community Action Committee member Jeremy Castano about the local struggle to expand the powers of the Citizens Review Board.
Jaden Patel of Tampa Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) said “USF needs to increase its Black enrollment. Less than 10% of USF’s student population is Black, while almost 25% of Tampa is. This is essential to allowing the Black community to be able to develop and thrive.” Tampa SDS has been campaigning to hold the University of South Florida’s administration to account for the massive disparity in its enrollment of African American students.
“Our community has always been the nest of everything wrong in this city. This import of dope, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the renting-while-Black program. All socially engineered by the city leaders from the beginning,” said Connie Burton of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and veteran Tampa activist of the oppression experienced by the local African American community
Frank Chapman, chairman of the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression (NAARPR) and central committee member of the FRSO, who joined the panel over Zoom, discussed the ongoing struggle in Chicago around ECPS. “What’s going on in Chicago right now is the most important thing happening in the Black liberation movement today. Everyone here and across the country should be watching closely. The only way we will overcome police violence, the foot-soldiers of the ruling class, is through the people and allowing the people to have control over the police.”
The panel emcee was Gareth Dawkins of the FRSO. She closed the event saying “This event should reaffirm everyone’s dedication to the struggle of African Americans and all others oppressed by the U.S. empire. Through our unity we will consolidate and grow this movement.”