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Tampa protest demands justice for Jacob Blake and community control of the police

By Taylor Cook |
August 30, 2020
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Tampa protest against police crimes.
Tampa protest against police crimes. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Tampa, FL - On August 28, around 70 protesters demanded justice for Jacob Blake at an event by Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Tampa Bay Community Action Committee (TBCAC). Blake was a Black man shot seven times in the back by Officer Rusten Sheskey in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His murder sparked a massive rebellion in Kenosha and protests in other cities across the country.

In addition to demanding justice Jacob Blake, demonstrators also demanded justice for victims of police brutality in Tampa, including justice for Jonas Joseph, Josiah Pinner and Andrew Joseph III.

David Jones, member of TBCAC stated, “It’s important to stand together in solidarity with the people at the front of the fight with Jacob Blake in Kenosha. Their fight is the same as ours here in Tampa, and we must keep fighting for the victims at home like Jonas Joseph, Josiah Pinner and Andrew Joseph III.” Jonas Joseph was shot over 125 times by Tampa Police Department officers this past April, and Josiah Pinner was a 15-year-old boy killed by a speeding Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office officer in a hit and run. Andrew Joseph III was 14 when HCSO officers removed him from the Florida State Fair and dropped him off two miles away where he was then hit by a car while trying to cross a major interstate.

Protesters were also demanding community control of the police in the form of a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC). A CPAC would be a democratically elected board of community members with no relation to the police, and it would be able to control the hiring and firing of police forces, subpoena evidence and investigate cases, and control the police department’s budget.

Eithne Silva, a member of SDS, spoke about CPACs saying, “If we want to see long term change in policing in this country then a CPAC is the best option because it empowers the community rather than allowing the white supremacist system to remain unchanged.”

The protest continued with speeches and chants while many passing cars showed their support for the protesters. While the pandemic has greatly impacted life, the protest was proof that the power of the people and the demands for justice don’t stop. Tampa Bay SDS plans to continue protests demanding justice for victims of police brutality, while fighting to increase Black faculty and counselors at the University of South Florida.