Tampa 5 activists walk free after bogus felony charges dropped

Hands Off Uhuru Fightback Coalition salutes the people’s organizing that forced the state of Florida to drop all the bogus felony charges against the Tampa 5. At the same time, we demand that the State drop all threats of misdemeanor charges still faced by the five activists who agreed to a “misdemeanor diversionary program” that states that their misdemeanor charges will only be dropped after a year-long period in which they are banned from USF campuses “except under specific conditions” and are required to complete 24 hours of community service.

The Tampa 5 were facing trial for justly protesting at the University of South Florida in opposition to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s dismantling of Black and Ethnic studies programs. As they exercised their right to freedom of speech, they were brutally assaulted by police. As stated by the Students for a Democratic Society website, “On March 6th, Students for a Democratic Society at USF in Tampa protested to demand President Rhea Law and her administration take a stand against Governor DeSantis’ latest attacks on diversity, ethnic studies, and Black history in universities, and were met with brutalization and arrest by the University of South Florida Police Department of members of USF has continued to violate students’ right to protest and intimidate them with baseless criminal and academic charges.”

The original charges and this “diversionary program” represent a blatant attack on the right to free speech and political expression and should be dropped completely. We demand that the government drop the “misdemeanor diversionary program,” which sets a dangerous precedent with a chilling effect on the free speech rights of everyone in the U.S. This includes a crackdown on the rights of students who have a long history of campus protests and activism in this country, actions which have successfully won many free speech, anti-colonial, antiwar and civil rights issues over many decades.

Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Continues to defend all who face colonial State repression, bogus charges, and threats of indictment. We demand the state of Florida drop all threats of misdemeanor charges against the Tampa 5. We demand the U.S. government drop all charges against the Uhuru 3! Hands Off Uhuru advances the anti-colonial free speech movement and the unity and rights of all oppressed and colonized peoples rights in the U.S. and around the world!

We are winning! Venceremos!

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