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Gia Davila of the Tampa 5 speaks in Orange County

By staff

Tampa 5 speaking tour in Orange County, California. | Fight Back! News/staff

Orange County, CA – On Friday, October 27, over 30 students and community members gathered across two events to listen to Gia Davila of the Tampa 5 on her stop of the Justice for the Tampa 5 speaking tour. The Tampa 5 are a group of students, workers, and community activists who were violently arrested while protesting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ racist attacks on education at the University of South Florida. They are facing up to ten years in prison and are on a speaking tour to call for these unjust charges to be dropped.

Gia Davila, a member of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), gave context to the current political climate in Florida. She spoke on legislation being proposed that attacks LGBTQ, reproductive, immigrant, union and education rights. She described the bill that Tampa Bay SDS were protesting on the day of the arrests, HB 999, “which effectively banned diversity, equity and inclusion programs from universities. It also had nasty rhetoric about tenure for professors, it attacked Black history, it attacked ethnic studies and multicultural groups.”

Davila continued, “Not only are we innocent, we were doing something good. More students should be protesting on campus to retain these programs and expand these programs of diversity on our campuses.”

The prosecution is threatening them with consequences if they talk to the press, but Davila confidently said, “Of course we are not going to listen to them, that is why I am here.”

The events were put on by CSO Orange County and were co-sponsored by the MEChA de UCI chapter and the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department of CSUF.

Sol Márquez, a member of Centro CSO in Boyle Heights, stated, “The Tampa 5 is much more than specifically people in Tampa, it transcends to all of us who are fighting for what is right.”

Michelle Sanchez, co-chair of MEChA at UCI, highlighted the political repression experienced by students at UCI by saying if they had collaborated with the university to put on this panel, they “would have had to strike some things off of the conversation,” otherwise it would not be approved. She encouraged attendees to get organized in order to fight this repression.

Dr. Marlén Ríos-Hernández, a Chicana studies professor, urged people to take action in this time of heightened political repression, stating, “There will be a time where you have to make up your mind about what you want for the liberation of others, for the liberation of your own people, and decide what it will take for you to be unafraid.”

#OrangeCountyCA #PoliticalRepression #Tampa5 #DeSantis #StudentMovement #SDS #CSO #MECHA