Santa Ana rallies in solidarity with the Tampa 5
Santa Ana, CA – On August 9, chants of “When the Tampa 5 are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!” filled the Plaza Calle Cuatro in downtown Santa Ana. A group of activists from Community Service Organization Orange County (CSO OC), MEChA University of California Irvine (UCI), Brown Berets, Anakbayan UCI, and community members rallied as part of a national call to protest for the Tampa 5 who are facing felony charges and up to a decade of incarceration for protesting on the University of South Florida campus.
Jay Perez, CSO OC member, kicked off the rally by speaking about the right-wing attacks on education, stating, “If schools aim to teach ethnic studies – the study of our own people's cultures and movements of resistance, like the Chicano movement and United Farm Workers that were fought for to be taught in classes – this is labeled critical race theory with conservatives making the claim that these topics are divisive and should be erased from the classroom.”
“They don’t want us to know we can fight and win against our enemies, and they want to take away the gains the people have made for oppressed students at universities,” David Pulido, member of CSO OC, stated about the reason these attacks on education are taking place. He also discussed the role of the police in these struggles for equality. “As seen in the case of the Tampa 5, the police have never been on the side of the people or our struggles for freedom and equality. Despite this, city budgets are swallowed up by police departments. That’s the case here in Santa Ana, where so-called ‘Public Protection’ claimed almost 60% of the budget last year.”
Michelle Sanchez, co-chair of MEChA at UCI, stated “You’re likely wondering at this point, why Chicanos like us are protesting against DeSantis and efforts to remove diversity programs in Florida. We too have experienced centuries of repression, decades of attempted removal, and years of mistreatment for seeking so much as respect.” She then recounted stories of Chicano oppression from the Zoot Suit Riots to the Chicano Walkouts to the murder of Ruben Salazar at the Chicano Moratorium in 1970. “We are still unequal. We see this in action with DeSantis and his reign of anti-POC policy making.” She ended by saying that “We cannot allow this man’s anti-diversity rhetoric to permeate more Chicano communities statewide and nationally.”
Rain Mendoza, member of CSO OC, recalled an incident at UCI where the campus police brutalized and arrested an African American woman for attempting to enter the admissions building where a wildcat strike was being held. “This all goes back to police repression. So it’s important that we stand up for the Tampa 5 today and for all people who have been arrested for simply trying to find their path towards liberation.”
The Tampa 5 will be going on a national speaking tour later this year leading up to their next pretrial hearing in December. You can support the Tampa 5 by signing the petition at peoplespetitions.org/tampa5.