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Tampa rallies for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

By Matt Schott |
July 12, 2016
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Tampa protest against police terror
Tampa protest against police terror (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL- Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized a rally and march, July 9, demanding justice for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In preparation for the event, students went to the African American neighborhoods of Tampa passing out hundreds of flyers and speaking to the community about police crimes.

The campaign of police terror targeted at Black Americans has sparked national outrage with the deaths of its most recent victims, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man and father was tased by the police while he was selling CDs outside of a convenience store. The police then pinned him on the ground and brutally murdered him as he lay defenseless. The next day, Philando Castile was shot four times in front of his girlfriend and her daughter after being pulled over for a broken taillight. Castile had told the police he was legally carrying a weapon, and was reaching for his drivers license when the police opened fire. Castle became at least the 569th person killed by police this year.

Meeting at Lykes Gaslight Park, around 50 activists, students and community members came together to fight back against the racist police system.

Protesters began chanting “Black Power!” and “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail!” voicing their anger at a corrupt and racist system which allows cops to murder without legal punishment. Activists from SDS, Students for Justice in Palestine, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization spoke in solidarity with the victims of police terror and denounced the continuing murder of African Americans.

Speaking to the crowd, Jessica Schwartz of Freedom Road Socialist Organization connected racist discrimination to capitalism, “For Black people, the police are not here to serve and protect them, but rather to serve and protect the interests of the ruling class.”

Protesters marched to the police station with chants of "Send the killer cops to jail,” “Our community our control," defiantly occupying the entrance to the station to give more speeches exposing the police as racist and unaccountable to the people. Kimya Jones came forward from the crowd to speak on her experiences of abuse at the hands of police, calling for the community to continue to organize to win justice.

Sam Beutler of Tampa SDS summarized the importance of the rally stating, “The fight against police brutality and for justice for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile is not confined to Baton Rouge and Minneapolis. We must continue to join organizations to collectively fight against the oppression of African Americans. The current political system offers no hope for liberation and justice for African Americans. This is a nationwide fight - not at the ballot box, but in the streets - to secure a future of African Americans free of racism and exploitation.”