April 19, 2024

González-Mulattieri | Telling My Side of the Story

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Re: Student Assembly Presidential Candidates Face Rigorous Questions (news, April 19)

Author Robert Greene once said, “We do not see people as they are, but as they appear to us. And these appearances are usually misleading.” It probably comes as no surprise that I find myself agreeing with his sentiment today, given the “revelations” related to my character. I make no excuses for my experiences because they’ve made me into the man I am today. However, I feel obligated to relate the truth to the Cornell community to illustrate a more complete picture of who I am and where I come from.

As many of you know, 2020 will perhaps go down as the most tumultuous year on record for the 21st century. A raging global pandemic, economic upheaval, authoritarian policies and civil dissent from every imaginable corner of the ideological spectrum were compressed into what now seems to be a series of weeks. This is no less true for the state of Florida and the City of Tampa. My activity as a local organizer and activist essentially guaranteed that I would become embroiled in civil unrest.

Before George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin and three other police officers, Tampa was already dealing with its own brand of police misconduct. Mayor Jane Castor, the twice federally investigated mayor of Tampa and former Chief of Police, who benefitted from her lobbyist wife’s, Ana Cruz, proximity to the GOP political elite through her employment at Ballard Partners, the lobbying firm largely responsible for Donald J. Trump’s electoral success in Florida, is no stranger to allegations of racism and corruption. Once elected, Castor implemented racist, draconian municipal ordinances such as “Biking While Black” and “Housing While Black.”

Naturally, as protests broke out throughout the country, Tampa activists and residents, myself among them, had more reason than most to take to the streets. It was during the three months between May and July 2020 that I found myself in front of countless Black Lives Matter protests. We made the city inhospitable as we did everything in our power to hold Police misconduct in Tampa accountable.

These actions inevitably put a target on the backs of organizers throughout the city as former Chief of Police Brian Dugan incited violence against protesters. Ultimately, this would lead to one of the largest crackdowns against civil disobedience in the country. This is the environment where I, a Latino male with indigenous and Black heritage, found myself on the opposite end of police harassment.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed when the democratically elected State Attorney Andrew Warren, unethically suspended by Governor Ron DeSantis, dropped all of my charges stemming from the Castor regime’s corrupt vendetta against community organizers. Since then, multiple Tampa Police Chiefs have stepped down due to corruption or misconduct. As of this writing, I’ve done my due diligence and procured police reports from both the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office which reflect that all the distorted allegations made against me were dropped.

I do not claim complete innocence. I was party to civil disobedience. That, I am fully responsible for. The events reported by the Cornell Sun did occur. However, the reports The Sun accessed were grossly skewed and distorted to fit the agenda of a racist, autocratic mayor bent on cowing protesters into submission so that her ambitions to one day become the governor of Florida could be realized. I make no apologies for standing up and fighting against this tyrant, even if it may have maligned my reputation. That’s who I am. I never punch down, least of all against workers. The pipeline to my career as an organizer could be attributed to my work as a workers’ rights and labor justice advocate. I’ve been to multiple picket lines in support of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. So it pains me to be mischaracterized as a danger to the very workers I aim to represent.

In summation, my story is that of a man of color from one of the most racist states in the union. A state where Latinos and other predominant immigrant communities have been criminalized. A state where the Governor claims that Black people benefited from slavery and Black history curricula is under attack. A state where people from the LGBT+ communities and women are constantly on the receiving end of legislative violence. I am a man who will resolutely stand in opposition to all injustice no matter who or where it comes from. I am unrelenting in this pursuit, and this is why I was approached by many students on campus to run and serve as your Student Assembly President.

Getúlio González-Mulattieri is a junior at the Brooks School of Public Policy with aspirations to go to law school. He is currently running for Student Assembly president. He can be emailed at [email protected]