Above Photo: The Appleton, WI stop on the Tampa 5 speaking tour. Fight Back News.
Appleton, Wisconsin – On Saturday, September 23, students, faculty, and other members of the Fox Valley community gathered at Lawrence University’s Warch Cinema in defense of the Tampa 5. In their second stop on their national tour, Lauren Pineiro and Chrisley Carpio of the Tampa 5 spoke to the LU community. Opening with chants of ‘drop the charges now!’ and ‘fight back!’, the Tampa 5 representatives spoke in detail of their case and its repercussions to the group of 35 people. For some, it was their first time hearing of the infuriating case, where the five protesters are facing five to ten years in prison on false charges.
Chrisley Carpio, Laura Rodriguez, Lauren Pineiro, Gia Davila, and Jeanie Kida were all charged with battery of a law enforcement officer, disrupting campus function, and resisting arrest. In reality, they were arrested for protesting against DeSantis’ House Bill 999 which will ban ethnic studies, women, and gender studies, cultural groups, and programs as well as take away rights to tenure for faculty.
Despite all the video evidence to show the contrary, the Florida state attorney has charged the five activists. As Carpio and Pineiro explained, USF also sided with the police, showing how despite the claims of being apolitical, universities eventually show their political nature and their politically repressive nature when it comes to shutting down progressive movements. The state attorney attempted to make the Tampa 5 sign letters of apology and admission of guilt to the charges to the same police officers that had brutalized, groped, and pinned the phony charges on them in the first place.
In response to the ridiculous proposition, Chrisley proudly proclaimed, “We said hell no! We will not sell out the movement!”
The Tampa 5 proved they were not to be intimidated. They have not backed down despite the case has affected all aspects of their lives – from the firing of university employee, Carpio, to the threatened expulsion of the students, being told to not speak to the media, and as Pineiro said, “These attacks should be seen for what they are: acts of political repression.”
“Regardless of whatever charges the state makes up, despite claiming to no longer run counter-intelligence programs, and no matter how many times we are lied to in our faces, the Tampa 5, SDS, and all people with a recollection of recent history won’t be fooled – the state cannot be trusted. We must reject the narrative of USF, the police, and the Florida state attorney, side with and defend the Tampa 5. Protesting is not a crime, protesting is a right that no amount of attacks from reactionaries and their police lackeys will be able to stop. The Tampa 5 remind us that protest scares the ruling class,” said Audari Tamayo, a leader with the LU chapter of SDS.
Tamayo continued, “Accordingly, the ruling class has retaliated, but we will not back down! DeSantis and his reactionary cronies are rewriting history, banning hard-fought for programs like ethnic, women, and gender studies, cultural programs, and attacking unions. This cannot go on without a fight. To close off, Carpio started to chant, “Drop the charges now! If we don’t get it, shut it down!”. But these aren’t just words, SDS and numerous other progressive organizations and individuals around the country remain committed to defending the Tampa 5 by any means necessary! Drop the charges now! Protesting is not a crime!”
Learn more about the Tampa 5 and how you can support them at defendthetampa5.org