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Tampa: Thousands march for justice, police respond with violence

By Bill Aiman |
May 31, 2020
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Police attack Tampa protest against police crimes.
Police attack Tampa protest against police crimes. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL - Thousands continue to march and demand justice for George Floyd as protests across the Tampa Bay enter their second day. Jane Castor, current mayor of Tampa and former chief of police, enacted a curfew in an attempt to stop the people’s uprising. Despite the curfew and heavy police repression, people are staying in the streets until justice is served.

Tampa had two organized protests May 31. The first protest was held in East Tampa, a majority African American neighborhood. Demonstrators marched through East Tampa and Ybor City. After the end of the march people began moving to downtown for the second march at 5 p.m. Once the crowd had lowered to a smaller size, Tampa Police Department began shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, hitting a woman in the head causing her to bleed. Confrontations with police continued to escalate into the night as members of the community set tires on fire in a major intersection in East Tampa.

The second protest was held in Downtown Tampa. Protesters gathered to hear speeches and then marched towards Interstate-275. The police responded by nearly running over peaceful protesters in an attempt to head off the march and prevent an occupation of the freeway. The people continued to push forward, and the police responded by shooting tear gas and pepper-spraying demonstrators. Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan shortly after declared the gathering to be unlawful and police continued to push protesters back with force. The march then went to Curtis Hixon Park, where people continued to face off with police despite the newly enacted curfew.

“It was completely peaceful and the cops were telling people there was no curfew as long as it was peaceful,” said Taylor Cook, an organizer from Tampa Bay SDS, “but then they showed that they were lying when they started arresting peaceful protesters and blocking people on the bridge.”

Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society, a student group at the University of South Florida, is currently raising a bail fund for protesters who have been arrested. It’s not clear when protests will end but one thing is certain: the people of Tampa are sick and tired of police terror and are ready to rise up until true justice can be served.