Florida: Campus protesters face felony charges for opposing Gov. DeSantis agenda

From Fightback News
Tampa, Florida 

There is a growing movement across the country to demand that Florida prosecutors drop the charges against the Tampa 5, the University of South Florida (USF) campus protesters who are facing felony charges for opposing the racist and reactionary agenda of Gov. Ron DeSantis. In addition to the legal charges, the university administration is threatening to punish the students and to fire an AFSCME worker who participated.

Tampa students protest Gov. DeSantis’ reactionary agenda. Photo: Tampa Students for a Democratic Society. Photo web source: Tampa SDS twitter

On March 6, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) hosted a march to demand a meeting with USF President Rhea Law, insisting she protect the diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) programs at USF. The protesters marched into Law’s office in the Patel Center, where they were met with repression and violence from USF police.

One of the protesters, Chrisley Carpio, states: “The University of South Florida, their police and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are the real criminals. It’s not right that we were brutalized, arrested and charged for protesting DeSantis’ racist bill HB 999, a bill that would ban all diversity programs, multicultural groups, ethnic studies, women’s and gender studies, and the rights of faculty to tenure.

“These charges need to be dropped immediately and the bill stopped in its tracks.”

Carpio continued, “We, the Tampa 5, are not sorry for doing the right thing. We intend to fight these charges and show that we are not only not guilty but also on the right side of history.”

Almost 200 trade unionists and supporters signed an open letter to the University of South Florida demanding that AFSCME member Chrisley Carpio keep her job and defending the students. On top of the felony charges, Carpio was placed on administrative leave on March 7, and the administration states it wants to terminate her.

National Students for a Democratic Society has an ongoing campaign to defend diversity programs and affirmative action. SDS chapters in Florida have been at the forefront organizing against DeSantis’ attacks on higher education.

Progressive and civil liberties organizations across the U.S. are joining the fight to drop the charges against the Tampa 5. Sign a petition supporting the Tampa 5: peoplespetitions.org/tampa5.

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