Dec 5, 2023 - News

Charges against "Tampa Five" to be dropped

Chrisley Carpio, Laura Rodriguez, Lauren Pineiro and their lawyer Michelle Lambo outside of Tampa’s 13th Judicial Circuit Court. Photo courtesy of Dave Decker.

Chrisley Carpio, Laura Rodriguez, Lauren Pineiro and their lawyer Michelle Lambo outside Tampa's 13th Judicial Circuit Court. Photo courtesy of Dave Decker.

The charges against Gia Davila, Jeanie Kida, Chrisley Carpio, Laura Rodriguez and Lauren Pineiro — dubbed the "Tampa Five" by supporters after they were arrested while protesting at USF in March — will be dropped.

Why it matters: The five faced the possibility of years in prison on charges of battery against a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest without violence and disrupting a school or campus function.

  • Felony charges had hung over them for much of the year, leaving the women unsure of how to plan for their future.

How we got here: Davila, Kida, Carpio, Rodriguez and Pineiro were arrested in connection with a March 6 diversity rally organized by the Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at the University of South Florida.

  • The five were among a group of protesters who marched into the Patel Center to demand a meeting with USF president Rhea Law. They pleaded with her to oppose Gov. Ron DeSantis' legislative effort to ban diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on college campuses.
  • Police intervened, instructing them to leave. When they refused, the officers began grabbing students and ushering them outside, according to footage of the incident Axios reviewed. A clash followed.

Driving the news: The five agreed to a "misdemeanor intervention program," leading to the "dismissal of their charges" upon fulfilling various conditions, including community service, according to an SDS press release.

What they're saying: "This victory was made possible by months of mobilizations of people across the state of Florida," Davila told supporters outside the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse in Tampa.

  • "It is because of the bravery of students and youth protesters coming out for diversity and for student protest, that these five members of Students for a Democratic Society protesters will not see a single day in prison."

The other side: "This resolution brings closure to all parties, ensuring the defendants are held accountable for their actions," the state attorney's office said in a statement.

  • "It is our hope that all involved can benefit from the grace afforded them by the State Attorney's office and move on to have very successful and productive lives," a statement from USF police read. "We wish them well."
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