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Jacksonville rallies for Tampa 5, against SCOTUS affirmative action ruling

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Jacksonville, FL – As part of a coordinated effort across the country, the activist community in Jacksonville stood in solidarity with the Tampa 5. On July 11, 65 people gathered in front of the Duval County Courthouse to demand legal charges be dropped against the four members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and a union worker who were arrested in early March. Laura Rodriguez, Gia Davila, Lauren Pineiro, Jeanie Kida and Chrisley Carpio are facing felony charges.

The Tampa 5 are activists who exercised their right to protest the racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic Florida House Bill 999, now law. The prosecutor’s office and University of South Florida, pushed by Governor Ron DeSantis, seeks to make an example of them. The Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) along with UNF SDS organized the rally to stand in solidarity and publicly condemn the arrests and subsequent charges.

“When you come for one of us, you come for all of us,” said Maria Garcia, sister to an activist facing charges. She continued, “We demand that Prosecutor Justin Diaz resigns, that State Attorney Susan Lopez resigns, and that they drop the unjust and unfounded charges!”

Laura Rodriguez, one of the SDS members facing charges, spoke at the rally, leading a chant, “The people united, will never be defeated – El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!”

Speakers reflected on previous instances of government repression and police brutalization in Jacksonville. They explained how with a unified front, activists were successful in pressing for charges to be dropped. Organizers are confident that they will win again.

Student, community and labor activists in Florida are facing unprecedented attacks. Speakers explained that it is critical that progressive and fair-minded people stand in unity and solidarity as democratic rights are threatened.

Protesters also spoke against the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, which gutted affirmative action on college campuses. Speakers talked about how this is all a plan to hurt Black and other oppressed nationality representation in higher education.

The national day of action was called by called by the Emergency Committee to Defend the Tampa 5 along with the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and the National Students for a Democratic Society. Protesters vowed to continue fighting for justice for the Tampa 5.

Speakers at the rally included representatives from JCAC, Take Em’ Down Jax, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), SDS, Planned Parenthood, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Duval Coalition of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE) and UPS Teamsters.


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