Six protesters from Occupy Tampa detained while laying or sitting on sidewalk during the day
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10/21/11 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

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Six Occupy Tampa demonstrators were detained this morning by Tampa Police, beginning just before 9 a.m. They were handcuffed, frisked, placed in police cars and taken away. A police spokesperson says they would be arrested and read their Miranda rights later. The protesters were lying or sitting on the sidewalk. Before he was detained, Andrew Kovanis said he wants a judge to rule if his arrest is legal.

“They’re telling us that we have to get off the sidewalk; that we have to be awake by 6 a.m. I find that to be unconstitutional and I’m here to stand up for our rights. We have the right to freedom of assembly in a public space. I’m in a public space and I’m assembling.”

The protesters had been told by police they could stay on a stretch of sidewalk between Curtis Hixon Park and North Ashley Drive. But they could not sleep between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. They had complied for 11 straight nights, but last night Occupy Tampa protesters decided that they would not move when police roused them this morning.

All the protesters planning to stay overnight raised their hands, except one. Greg Priem is the person who called the vote and he was the first one arrested this morning. After conversations with members of Tampa City Council yesterday, Occupy Tampa protesters like USF student Dania Sixto were convinced that they would not be breaking the law by sleeping on the sidewalk during the day.

The protesters disagree with the police that they were violating city ordinance. In council there was controversy over City Code Section 22-8 which prohibits placing an article or thing on the sidewalk. Some had bedding, but at least one was lying on the sidewalk with a small blanket completely on top of him. Tampa Police spokesperson Andrea Davis confirmed that the protesters were arrested for violating 22-8, a misdemeanor.

Before he was arrested, Kevin Flynn said he was one of the people who met with the two members of City Council yesterday afternoon. Flynn says those two weren’t convinced it was against city ordinance to be on the sidewalk.

Police wouldn’t allow anyone near enough, so the audio is distant and there are other voices in the background, but this is Flynn as he was being led, handcuffed, into the police car.

A few minutes later Flynn was taken out of the car because his hands were handcuffed in front of his body. Police took the handcuffs off, handcuffed him behind his back and placed him back in the car. Flynn was not lying on the sidewalk, he was sitting with a blanket over himself. His girlfriend, Alicia Dion was lying next to him. They both said they did not want to get arrested and thought they were not breaking the law.

Skylar Winslow and Fitzgerald Scott were the other two detained. The Tampa Police spokesperson could not explain why not all the people who were lying or sitting on sidewalk were handcuffed. One Occupy Tampa member who was not arrested, Elizabeth Toms, said if protesters were breaking a city ordinance by sleeping on sidewalks, they would have been arrested before.

Here is an interview with three of the "Tampa 6" after they were released from jail Friday. American Civil Liberties Union of Florida attorney John Dingfelder was also on the program.

Here are more WMNF News photos of the detentions

Here's our previous coverage of Occupy Tampa

Occupy Tampa's Kevin Flynn & Alicia Dion handcuffed by police:



Occupy Tampa's Fitzgerald Scott detained by police:



Occupy Tampa's Skylar Winslow detained by police:



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Comments

I'm still confused.

I couldn't help but notice that in Picture 27 of 31 (in the photo album that goes with this story) there is a FOX 13 News vehicle that's clearly parked on the sidewalk. I somehow doubt that vehicle was ticketed for not being parked in a legitimate parking space or for blocking the public right of way. I'm not sure if the Police let this vehicle stay there until this news crew was done shooting their story or if they made them remove the vehicle (thus keeping the sidewalk free of an obstruction that would hinder the safe passage of pedestrians) immediately because I wasn't there. One other thing, I really wasn't aware that the TPD has the authority to make their own laws/ordinances, i.e. - people can sleep on the sidewalk but not between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. As I understand it, and I may be wrong, this isn't really an existing law, ordinance or in the City Code but it's reportedly something the TPD "came up with" on their own. The arrests in this instance have been described as being justified because these people were apparently violating City Code Section 22-8 which prohibits placing an article or thing on the sidewalk (didn't the FOX 13 NEWS vehicle mentioned above do just that?) but it hardly seems to matter when local Law Enforcement also apparently takes on the job of Law Makers. Just my two cents. Props to WMNF for all they do to keep this community informed.

Where is Judge Judy When You Need Her?

confused citizen is truly confused. "I somehow doubt..." is about as far away from fact as a confused person can get. Let's stick to facts: these deadbeats were left alone until they forced the police to arrest them. Are they satisfied now that the police arrested them as they wanted? Probably not. They will never be satisfied by anything. These are the chronic complainers of society, the deadbeats, the posers, the self-centered --the kind of people who borrow money from you and get offended if you ask for your money to be returned. Take a good look, Mr and Mrs public. You don't want to give these malcontents a job. Or an apartment.

Hero's

Three of the arrested protesters were featured on the last call Friday afternoon. They endured deplorable conditions. One described how the lights from the media made it difficult to sleep at night and incessant harassment from police made it impossible to nap in the daytime. I fear evil republicans will make it difficult for them to receive blankies and goodnight kisses from their Mommies. Persevere my brothers.

OMG

Oh my goodness--they truly are martyrs. When will the unicorns return to save us from this madness???

Wake Up

Reading some of the comments I can clearly see that many are not clear on the reason these people are protesting. If you are going to be negative you should at least take time to understand the point! I suggest you go to any of the weekend events and gatherings. You will see people of all ages, types, political view points, etc, etc. Trust me you will then understand the point and see how it effects as all. These are critical times and we all need to be paying close attention. If you can not think of a handful if not more issues that need to be improved in our current system then you are not on planet earth!!!

que?

I don't think that anyone believes that there aren't some things that can be improved. The point is that camping out and being obnoxious will not achieve anything. It's like if I camped out in front of McDonalds because I was mad about highway speed limits. It makes no sense.