Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Tampa students demand justice for victims of police crimes

By Lauren Pineiro

Tampa Bay SDS vigil for the national day of action against police terror.

Tampa, FL – On the first day of Black History Month, February 1, students at the University of South Florida rallied in front of a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to demand justice for Tyre Nichols, Manny Páez Terán, and Keenan Anderson. The event was organized by Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) as part of a National Day of Action Against Police Terror with SDS chapters across the country participating.

These actions were called in response to the violent police murders of three, all of which took place in the span of two weeks. On January 3, the Los Angeles Police Department tasered Keenan Anderson over ten times in just 42 seconds – an act of brutality that led to his death four hours later. Keenan Anderson was the third person to be killed by LAPD in 2023, just three days into the new year. “Justice for Keenan Anderson!” was displayed on signs and chanted by the protestors.

The crowd also chanted, “Justice for Tortuguita!” for committed organizer Manny “Tortuguita” Páez Terán. On January 18, Manny was murdered by Georgia law enforcement for defending the Weelaunee Forest from being turned into “Cop City,” a $90 million police training facility. Their death is yet another example of law enforcement using violence as a form of political repression.

On January 7, Tyre Nichols was brutally assaulted by at least seven Memphis police officers who left him fighting for his life for three days until his passing. Although five of the officers have been charged with murder, protesters know the struggle does not end there. “Tyre Nichol’s death was completely preventable and another reason why our communities need to have full and absolute control of the police,” remarked Victoria Hinckley.

Like Hinckley, Vaidehi Persad of SDS believes that the solution is putting the power into the hands of the people through community control of the police. “The first step is restoring rights and power to Black, Puerto Rican, Chicano, and other historically oppressed communities in the U.S. most heavily impacted by police brutality,” she told the crowd.

These killings are not isolated incidents and represent a long history of police terror against oppressed communities. For Eithne Silva, a member of Tampa Bay SDS, “these deaths are indicative of a nationwide crisis of police militarization and our communities living in constant fear of police departments that don’t serve the interests of the people.”

Even their vigil was not without police presence, with USF police patrolling the area around the MLK statue. “USFPD only harasses people and we have continually seen them intimidate and incite fear in students,” remarked Persad. Tampa Bay SDS has been campaigning against the campus police for the last couple of years, calling for them to return the militarized weapons gained from the 1033 program.

With signs reading “Black lives matter,” “Jail killer cops,” and “No good cops in a racist system,” students at USF showed that they are committed to police accountability both nationally and locally.

#TampaFL #PoliceBrutality #BlackLivesMatter #BlackHistoryMonth #StopPoliceCrimes