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Tampa protesters march to get charges dropped, community control of the police

By Staff |
July 5, 2020
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March demands "drop the charges against all protesters."
March demands "drop the charges against all protesters." (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL - On the evening of July 3, 50 members of the community marched through downtown Tampa to demand that local State Attorney Andrew Warren drop charges on protesters arrested during the Justice for George Floyd movement. Many protesters from events over the past several weeks in Tampa face charges like unlawful assembly and inciting a riot, both of which have been commonly used by police across the country to repress activists. The organizers of the march and protest Tampa Bay Community Action Committee (TBCAC), Intersections of Tampa Advocates (ITA), and Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The groups had previously held a similar event after which 67 protesters had their cases dismissed. They say Warren should drop many more of the charges against protesters.

"Warren has only dismissed the cases from the night of June 2, where peaceful demonstrators were corralled, tear gassed, pepper sprayed, shot by rubber bullets, and finally arrested,” said David Jones, a member of TBCAC. “While it is definitely a win that those charges were dropped, we have to fight for the numerous other protesters whose cases have not been dismissed.”

TBCAC was also demanding the creation of a civilian police accountability council, a locally elected board of citizens who would have the power to subpoena evidence from departments, hire and fire officers, negotiate the police union contract, approve or deny the department’s budget, and investigate cases of police misconduct. Much of these functions are currently done internally in police departments.

The march through downtown stopped at a Tampa Police Department building and the Hillsborough County Courthouse, where protesters were chanting, “Protesting is not a crime, drop the charges now!” and “TPD kills while on patrol, what do we want? Community control!”

Further arrests and charges have recently been brought forth by the local state attorney's office from protests as far back as a month.

“This movement will not stop until change happens,” another member of TBCAC stated. “We will do sit-ins at town hall, marches in downtown and protests all over until the charges are dropped and justice is won.”

At another protest over the weekend, ten more protesters were arrested by the Tampa Police Department and had their bail posted by Dream Defenders and Tampa Bay SDS using funds from their community bail funds.

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