Video shared on social media by Students For a Democratic Society shows a student standing next to USF Police Chief Christopher Daniel in the lobby of the Patel Center as students chant “we want a meeting now” in the background.
Members of SDS and other groups were demanding a meeting with USF President Rhea Law about expanding Black student enrollment and diversity programs, an issue that the group has worked on for years and held several protests about. They gathered today in the Patel Center around 1:30 p.m. to make their voices heard yet again.
The video shows Daniel grabbing student Victoria Hinckley by the arm as she tries to explain why they were there. She attempts to pull away, but he tightens his grip and pulls her harder. A student filming the incident screams “Don’t touch her!” several times and several students rush in to get her away from Daniel.
A student can be heard crying as other officers run into the scene and arrest a separate student who was in the crowd. Chaos breaks loose and students demand that the cops let the arrested student go.
Another video shows that students continued their protest outside of the Patel Center to demand the release of the others. There, several more USF officers rushed up to the crowd and began violently arresting people. Another video shows several officers on top of a student as other students scream for them to get off of her.
“Shame on you,” and “let her go” can be heard in the short clip.
In a social media post, SDS demanded the release of Gia Davila, Chrisley Carpio, Laura Rodriguez and Jeanie Kida, the four arrested students SDS said are currently being held at Orient Road Jail. The post also demanded that charges against the students be dropped and asked supporters to call USF’s police department number to demand their release.
All of them face felony charges of assault on a police officer, along with resisting an officer without violence and penalty for disruption of an educational institution, both misdemeanors.
USFPD's communications department claimed that protestors initiated the violence, but when shown the video of Daniel grabbing the young woman, did not respond.
The police also claimed that they responded to calls about the protest as it was happening in the Patel lobby, but SDS member Lauren Pineiro told CL that the cops were waiting for them when they entered the Patel center.
“Pretty much immediately they started to brutalize us,” Pineiro said. “They grabbed Victoria, they grabbed me and threw me to the ground, that kind of thing. So we were immediately met with force before we could really do anything.”
Pineiro said that Daniel—a defendant in a 2020 discrimination lawsuit filed by a former co-worker who claimed he was demeaning to women— assaulted multiple women during the altercations, and that other USFPD officers took part in the violence as well.
“Chris Daniel actually threw me as I was trying to tell him to get off of my friend,” Pineiro said.
This is a developing story.