FSA Protest Outside of Orient Road Jail by Dawn Morgan02/01/07
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday
Members of the University of South Florida's Feminist Student Alliance and other supporters gathered outside of the Orient Road Jail this morning to protest Tampa Police Department's treatment of the Gasparilla rape victim earlier this week. WMNF's Dawn Morgan has more.
Clip - sound of traffic
20 protesters lined the entrance of the Orient Road Jail this morning, holding homemade posters that read, "And you wonder why women don't report rape," and "no matter what, protect a woman's health." FSA member Allie Hall:
Allie: "1 in 3 or 1 in 4 women, depending on what you're reading, have been sexually assaulted or abused and most keep it inside. This is a good example of why they keep it inside. This woman called 911 for protection, she needed help and she was the one who ended up in jail for 2 days." 23 sec.
The protest was organized by USF's Feminist Student Alliance in response to the Tampa PD's treatment of the 21-year-old Gasparilla rape victim who reported the crime just hours after it occurred, only to be arrested on a 4-year-old charge against her that had never been cleared up.
Allie: "No matter you've was done, she was raped and that's all that needs to be said at that moment. And then from there, let's move forward. But the first thing she needs is care. EC, a full rape kit and people around her who are supporting her, not people around her who are trying to put her in jail and up her bail so she can't get the care that she deserves."
Tampa PD quickly changed their policy to give officers more discretion when dealing with a victim of a crime who has an arrest warrant against them. On January 30th, Police Chief Steve Hogue released this statement:
the decision of whether to arrest the victim on the active warrant will be made by the shift commander or higher authority. Consideration will be given to the degree of injury or mental trauma suffered by the victim balanced against the nature of the crime specified in the warrant.
But FSA's Allie Hall doesn't think the new policy is enough:
"We don't like the policy that's in effect now and what was in effect 3 days ago. Not focusing on the EC part because we can't confirm the exact story yet. Importance of a protest is that this is out there. When you have 20 twenty-year olds out there, there's a movement. There's hope." 35 sec.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's jail commander Col. David Parrish said Thursday afternoon at a press conference that human error led to the victim not getting her second does of emergency contraceptive. The victim's lawyer had asserted that a nurse's religious objection was the reason the contraception had not been administered.
Parrish said a deputy had put the medication in a property box and locked it away before a nurse had the chance to examine it, which is the normal jail policy. The victim was given the medication later in the day, but the delay drastically decreases the effectiveness of the medication.
The suspect has been described as a light skinned black male between 5'7 and 6 ft, medium build, mid 20's, gab between front teeth, short curly afro, last seen wearing jeans and T-shirt. The victim worked with a sketch artist and the picture is available at http://www.tampagov.net/pio/
This is Dawn Morgan, reporting for WMNF News.