Above Photo: Chicago protest demands Florida drop the charges against the Tampa 5. Fight Back! News/staff.
And Free All Political Prisoners.
On Saturday, July 1, more than 70 students and activists gathered in downtown Chicago. They joined the nationwide campaign by Students for a Democratic Society and the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression demanding that the charges on the Tampa 5 be dropped.
The Tampa 5 are Gia Davila, Laura Rodriguez, Chrisley Carpio, Lauren Pineiro and Jeanie Kida. They are students and workers in Florida who were beaten and arrested, and now facing ten years in prison, for protesting DeSantis’ far-right attacks on diversity in education.
The Chicago rally was called by Students for a Democratic Society and endorsed by a dozen other organizations, including the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Uhuru Movement, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Students for Justice in Palestine Chicago, Party for Socialism and Liberation and The Little Village Lawndale Fightback Organization.
Kobi Guillory of Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR), stated, “This unity we have today is beautiful and it’s growing. The only way that we are gonna get free is by uniting as many different groups as we can and fighting back until we have control of communities!”
Frank Chapman, executive director of NAARPR, spoke about the need to mobilize mass support for the Tampa 5 all over the country and about the July 12 National Day of Action to demand the charges on the Tampa 5 be dropped. He also spoke to the urgency of the fight to defend diversity in the face of the racist Supreme Court decision overturning affirmative action in higher education, leading the crowd in a chant of “We won’t go back!”
Joe Iosbaker of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization spoke about the 2010 FBI raids when FRSO was accused of providing material aid to terrorism for standing in solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle. Iosbaker was one of those 23 anti-war activists who faced down the FBI and won. Explaining why the government went to such lengths to repress the movement he said, “The people who run this country are afraid of dissent because their system is crumbling before our eyes!”
Isaiah Thomas of the Hand Off Uhuru Hands of Africa Committee read a statement condemning the FBI raids on the African Peoples Socialist Party and standing in solidarity with the Tampa 5. He emphasized the need to build organized resistance to political repression and stand against political repression, colonialism and imperialism.
Natalie Praenis, a member of SDS at UIC closed out the event: “The Tampa 5 stood up and spoke out against DeSantis and his regressive policies and for that, they were assaulted and arrested and facing prison time. This is not what a democracy looks like. Students should not be charged with felonies for exercising their right to protest on campus, and they should not be brutalized by the police for holding a peaceful demonstration. Free the Tampa 5!”