Five demonstrators, known as the “Tampa 5”, will avoid jail time after a long legal process stemming from a clash with police at the University of South Florida in March. The group announced the ruling from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse.
The group faced a mix of felony and misdemeanor charges after a violent interaction with police at USF while protesting Governor Ron DeSantis’s anti-diversity education laws.
The charges included battery on a law enforcement officer and disrupting a school campus function. The group argued that they were brutalized by police and unfairly targeted. They faced up to 5-10 years in prison.
Now, their felonies have been downgraded to misdemeanors.
Chrisley Carpio is one of the five charged.
“I feel incredibly relieved and vindicated. We know that with the power of the people, you can do anything.”
Lauren Pineiro also appreciated the nationwide support her group received.
“It is only through the people having protests across the country, sending resolutions that multiple organizations endorsed to the state attorney directly, to her office, I think through that pressure, that is how we won.”
Pineiro’s message to other student protestors:
“Keep fighting. We have a right to protest, it is our First Amendment right. People like DeSantis, and others like him across the country, they want to rip away the rights that were won through protests years ago in the 60’s and 70’s, and that’s why we have to continue the fight and continue pushing.”
Upon completion of a 1-year legal program that includes community service, the misdemeanor charges will be dropped.