Orlando, FL – On March 9, University of Central Florida (UCF) students participated in a solidarity action for the Tampa 4, a group of activists with University of South Florida (USF) Students for a Democratic Society that were brutalized by USF Police Department and arrested for protesting outside the university president’s office.
USF SDS’s demands were that the university take a stand against House Bill 999, the latest in Governor DeSantis’ attacks against Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs, and that the USF administration take immediate action to increase Black enrollment and restore the Diversity department at their College of Arts and Sciences.
The Tampa 4 includes Gia Davila, Chrisley Carpio, Laura Rodriguez and Jeanie Kida. They face trumped-up charges of assault or battery of law enforcement officers, resisting an officer without violence to his or her person, and interrupting a school.
UCF students unaffiliated with Students for a Democratic Society saw the videos online and organized an event in solidarity with the student organizers. The solidarity protest consisted of protesters waving signs and talking to students about the Florida legislature’s continued attacks on diversity programs, the campaign USF SDS is fighting for, and the repression of activism happening across the state, both against student and community organizations.
The arrests of the Tampa 4 are part of a string of repression aimed at activists that has swept the state of Florida in recent years. From the anti-protest law passed last year to recent moves to curtail public demonstrations at the state capitol building, Florida is seeking to quell the public discontent arising from its repressive policies. These policies include attacks on diversity programs, attacks on reproductive rights, attacks on trans rights, and attacks on union organizing. One protester said, “It’s important to show solidarity with our student comrades who were brutalized and arrested by the police,” because the police are simply trying to intimidate and silence student dissent against these policies.
Another organizer explained how important it is to “fight for our right to fight.” They continued that protesting “will become harder as DeSantis reaches further into our education system,” so now is the time to organize and unite to fight back against this repression.
Jacob Muldoon, a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), summed up that, “Building a mass movement and striving for unity among scattered organizations is a vital step to stand up, fight back and deal blows to our common enemy: the monopoly capitalists.”
Muldoon continued, “An attack on one student is an attack on all students,” and said that solidarity events like this are important to building a nationwide student movement capable of fighting and winning.