San Jose demands justice for the Tampa 5
San Jose, CA – 20 activists and community members held a rally, June 9, to demand dropping the charges against the Tampa 5, the five University of Southern Florida of protesters who were brutalized by police and wrongfully charged.
The community emphasized the threat of the bill, now law, that the Tampa 5 were protesting, warning, “Republicans, responsible for setting frightening new precedents with legislation attacking LGBT people, women, reproductive rights, and the undocumented, will not be merciful, and will use the HB 999 to silence all dissenting voices,” said Andy Schaefer, a member of the Silicon Valley Unemployed committee.
Florida’s HB 999 bans curricula that “distort significant historical events,” “teaches identity politics” or is “based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, or privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, or economic inequities.” HB 999 would put all Florida university hiring decisions in the hands of each universities’ board of trustees, a body that is controlled by the governor.
Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, which HB 999 defunds by name, “assist colleges in increasing student and faculty diversity, which can apply to race and ethnicity, as well as sexual orientation, religion and socioeconomic status,” said Schaefer. David Delfim Almieda, a member of San Jose State University Students for a Democratic Society, described the treatment of the Tampa 5 as a “blatant attack on students and faculty of color.”
Attendees held signs with slogans like “Protect civil liberties” and “Protect free speech.” Almieda accused the Florida state attorney of “trying to put these student activists in prison for protesting” and characterized the attack on the Tampa 5 as a “direct attack on activists and the people’s right to protest and speak out against injustice.”
Jennifer Lin, speaking on behalf of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), stated that First Amendment rights that the Tampa 5 were exercising “only exist on paper and are never fully granted to the people, especially not those fighting back against injustice.”
Despite the seriousness of the situation, speakers remain optimistic. “These attacks have consequences,” Schaefer said, highlighting worker pushback against SB 1718, another recent Florida Governor DeSantis law targeting undocumented people. Schaefer noted, “These politicians fail to understand that the people they demonize and exclude are essential workers in their economy.”
“The state is only heightening their attacks on us because they're actually afraid,” proclaimed Lin. “They're afraid of what we can do when we band together and fight.”