Justice for the Tampa 5! Defending Diversity is not a crime!
On March 6th, Students for a Democratic Society at USF in Tampa protested to demand President Rhea Law and her administration take a stand against Governor DeSantis’ latest attacks on diversity, ethnic studies and Black history in universities, and were met with brutalization and arrest by the University of South Florida Police Department of members ofUSF has continued to violate students’ right to protest and intimidate them with baseless criminal and academic charges. Following the arrest of the Tampa 4, students and union members across the country protested, called the USF PD and administration, signed on to letters of support to demand that they be released and all charges against them be dropped. While they were then released, USF has continued to push these charges in retaliation for their exercise of their rights. Far after the fact, the USF administration has now charged another student activist to continue in its attempts to stifle student demands, turning the Tampa 4 into the Tampa 5.
In addition to charging another student a month after the protest, USF is also stacking 3 students with half a dozen code of conduct charges and hence threatening them with expulsion at upcoming student hearings. We think this is absolutely unacceptable and just another arm of the political repression they've unleashed on SDS.
Furthermore, they have put one of the protesters, a campus worker, Chrisley Carpio, on paid administrative leave and, pending the outcome of the case, are getting ready to terminate her. We think the students should be able to graduate as they are scheduled to in a few weeks, we think the worker should be able to go back to work, and these charges should be dropped.
Students for a Democratic Society condemns these charges and the continuing harassment and intimidation that USF is using to repress student protest in the face of its own inaction. USF administration has made clear it would rather crush the rights of its own students and employees than stand against the attacks being waged on education. Defending diversity, ethnic studies, Black history and multicultural organizations on our campuses is not a crime, and we demand all charges, criminal and academic against the Tampa 5 be dropped immediately, that USF President Rhea Law take responsibility by resigning and that the chief of police - who instigated the violence by attacking students - be fired.
As the attacks on diversity programs, ethnic studies, Black history and cultural student organizations deepen across the country - especially in Florida, where it was uncovered that HB 999 would also target student organizations, including Black fraternities and sororities - we cannot afford to give in. Students, campus workers and community fought throughout the past several decades to establish ethnic studies programs and cultural student organizations. We have continued to fight to keep Black history in education where it belongs. While USF and other administrations try to intimidate and repress us for defending these programs, we will not back down from this fight, to defend the Tampa 5 and these programs. We call on students and youth in Florida to join the statewide mobilization on April 17th to make clear to university administrations and those leading these attacks on education that student protest is here to stay.
Justice for the Tampa 5!
Drop the Charges!
Rhea Law, Step Down! Fire Police Chief Daniel!
Defending Diversity is Not a Crime!