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Tampa community fights police brutality, shows solidarity with Mike Brown

By Jared Hamil |
August 26, 2014
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Tampa, FL protest against police brutality.
Tampa, FL protest against police brutality. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL - On a rainy afternoon, Aug. 23, 70 people rallied in downtown here, demanding justice for Mike Brown of Ferguson, Missouri. Gathering at Lykes Gaslight Park, the people protested outside the Tampa Police Department and the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Middle District of Florida. Protesters showed solidarity with the people fighting back in Ferguson by demanding the jailing of killer cops in Tampa.

Alekos Zambrano of Tampa Dream Defenders said, "We are here today to demand justice. We demand the immediate arrest and prosecution of the officer that shot Mike Brown. The immediate arrest and prosecution of the officer that killed Javon Neal. The immediate arrest and prosecution of the officer that killed Arthur Greene. We believe that these demands are reasonable. We believe that these demands are just. We also demand that here in Tampa, the police wear forward facing cameras so we no longer have to take their word for it, when they tell us that our young sisters and brothers forced them to pull the trigger. And we demand the police records of arrest, detainment and questioning, not ending in conviction. This way we can prove that stop and frisk exist in Tampa, and that harassment and profiling exist in Tampa as standard practice. And in this way we can have a fighting chance at changing racist policies and demanding justice for our murdered children."

Tampa police gunned down Javon Neal, a 16-year-old African American with no criminal record on July 22. In another deadly incident, Arthur Green, a 63-year-old African American man, suffered a medical emergency due to diabetes. The diabetic episode caused him to swerve while driving and sideswipe two cars. Police pulled Green from his car and handcuffed him. While handcuffed Green stopped breathing and though EMTs revived him, he later died at the hospital.

In the rain, people chanted, "Hands up, don't shoot!" and "No justice, no peace, no killer police!" Catherine Lim, a local activist with Raices En Tampa said, "We will never see the end of racism unless all those who are oppressed are liberated. The enemy - whether it's racist police, the National Guard in Ferguson, or the U.S. military in my home country of the Philippines, they're counting on us to stay divided. While our struggles might not be the same, we need to remember the power of staying united. From Ferguson to Palestine, to the Philippines, and to Tampa, Florida, solidarity!"

From Lykes Gaslight Park, the protesters marched to Tampa Police headquarters. They threw open the doors and marched up to the front desk. They demanded to speak with top police administrators. The protesters kept on chanting, as more police entered the lobby. The police refused to meet with the protesters and kept saying there was nobody in the multiple-story building to meet with them. After the police refused to meet and hear their demands, protesters kept chanting. As more police came downstairs, the protesters regrouped outside of the building.

Tampa Dream Defenders and the community will fight again. Their current campaign is against police brutality in Tampa. They're demanding the jailing of local killer police, release of police records on arrests of local African-Americans, external investigation into TPD, and forward facing cameras placed on all local TPD officers.

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