Milwaukee Protest Demands Justice for Tampa 5

Milwaukee Protest Demands Justice for Tampa 5

On July 19, a dozen activists gathered in front of the Sunburst Statue for a rally demonstrating solidarity and demanding justice for the Tampa 5. Protesters demanded charges be dropped against the Tampa 5, with calls to action to sign the petition and donate to their legal fund.

In March, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at the University of South Florida were protesting against attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. This protest ended in sudden violence when campus police brutalized and arrested protesters without warning. Four were arrested on the day of the action, with the fifth charged at a later date. The Tampa 5 includes Gia Davila, Lauren Pineiro, Chrisley Carpio, Laura Rodriguez, and Jeanie Kida, who are now facing unjustified felony charges and up to ten years in prison.

Co-chair of the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (MAARPR) Lo Cross explained why the struggle of the Tampa 5 is important.

“When the Tampa 5 stood up against DeSantis and said no to House Bill 999 and no to slashing diversity, equity and inclusion, they did that because they knew that if Florida organizers didn’t take a stand, reactionaries would think that organizers in other places wouldn’t take a stand,” Cross said. “Instead of backing down, the Tampa 5 recognized that the will of the masses out-strengthens the will of any reactionary and their agenda on any day.”

Emcee and outreach chair for the Milwaukee Alliance, Alan Chavoya, pointed out similarities between the struggles of the Tampa 5 and Wisconsin: “We’re seeing those same attacks. What DeSantis is doing is not isolated to only Florida, it’s a part of a national trend by these reactionaries and they have their eyes set in Wisconsin.”

Ryan Hamann of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) then said why expressing solidarity with the Tampa 5 is important by giving an example of repression faced by FRSO.

“Over a decade ago, FRSO was attacked by the FBI on grounds of material support for terrorism; in reality, the government just didn’t like that we were, and still are, outspoken supporters and defenders of the liberation struggles of people in Palestine, in Colombia, in the Philippines and all other places where people are fighting back against the U.S. empire.”

“The Tampa 5 shows us that students have power, the Tampa 5 shows us that administration is intimidated by our actions, and most importantly the Tampa 5 shows us that if we work together students can make real change,” said Patricia Fish of UW-Milwaukee SDS.

The Milwaukee solidarity event was co-hosted by the MAARPR and SDS UW-Milwaukee with speakers from each as well as a speaker from the FRSO.