“Tampa 5” celebrate getting extension on their court cases

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From left, Chrisley Carpio, Laura Rodriguez, Lauren Pineiro, and Jeanie Kida. By: Josh Holton (7/12/2023)

Members of the University of South Florida community who were arrested on campus in March were in court today. Defendants say they now have more time to build their case.

The defendants were arrested in March while protesting new laws limiting African American studies, and diversity issues in schools. Chrisley Carpio was a campus employee who lost her job as a result of her arrest. She said their legal team is having difficulty getting information from USF.

“And we know that, you know, everything will absolve us, and I think they know that too, so we’re just working on trying to get, like, meetings scheduled to depose witnesses and things like that.”

But Carpio says that still leaves her feeling pretty good about the case.

“There’s interest on, kind of, both sides to actually try and get this information, right, um, there’s not a rush to a trial. And we view that as something that works in our favor because we get more time to organize and spread word about our case, and also actually like, get evidence, you know; evidence that we think will clear us. So we’re feeling pretty good because we got that extension.”

Allies call Carpio and the other defendants the Tampa 5. Victoria Hinckley was not arrested, but was at the protest with Students for a Democratic Society. She is a senior at USF and majors in sociology and women and gender studies, and said she believes the Tampa 5 will prevail.

“This is all part of his- DeSantis’ agenda to you know, suppress progressive voices, to suppress activists’ voices that are going against his backwards agenda of you know, homophobia, racism, sexism, transphobia, and stuff like that. So we know that the state repression that the Tampa 5 are facing is just a part of DeSantis’ agenda to silence protesters.”

Other Florida students are joining in solidarity. K.C. Casey just graduated from New College of Florida, a traditionally progressive school, which Governor Ron DeSantis is seeking to remake into a conservative stronghold. Casey said arresting protestors is part of a larger effort to silence opposition.

“The goal there is to stifle dissent by getting at the root of the issue. That root of the issue is that students are catalysts for change in our society. The modern conservative movement – the far right – knows that, and they’re trying to attack students and democracy at its base, which is young people seeing the world for how it truly is, and they’re afraid of that.”

The next court date for the Tampa 5 is on August 9th.

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