8 Occupy Tampa members arrested in struggle to take Kiley Garden

11/07/11 Josh Holton
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Just after midnight this morning four more members of Occupy Tampa were arrested for trespassing in Kiley Garden in downtown Tampa, and opposing an officer without violence. They were released without bond within two and a half hours. Police say Kevin Flynn, Alicia Dion, Katie Christofilis, and Seth Collins were asked by Police to leave the park, but they refused and sat down and put an American flag in the ground. Occupy Tampa protester Skylar Winslow was one of the first six arrested in the movement locally. He was on the scene this morning when Collins was arrested while holding his ground in the park.

Yesterday morning four other members of Occupy Tampa were arrested while attempting to camp in Kiley Garden. On Saturday night police asked protesters to remove the tents they had set up in the garden. After they complied, officers left, but then returned around 3 Sunday morning, and arrested the four who refused to leave. Protester Cari Welsh caught the arrests on her camera. As Tampa Police threatened to arrest Fitzgerald Scott, some of his friends recited the first amendment using the people's mic.

The protesters say they were charged with trespassing and their arraignments are pending, but they were released from jail after 30 minutes of processing. One was volunteer fire fighter Tim Sommers. During the day on Saturday he and other members of Occupy Tampa marched with a local MoveOn group to protest at Bank of America's Tampa headquarters. Sommers said they also marched to protest the bank's foreclosure seminars at the Tampa Convention Center.

The mortgage modification outreach event was meant to help homeowners going through the pains of the foreclosure process. But many people still think that Bank of America has been so complicit in mortgage fraud, that they will provide little more than additional disappointment. Wesley Johnson is a retired professor from the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida. He said that Bank of America should be divested.

Tim Grantham wore an inmate uniform as a costume, both protesting past arrests, and predicting the arrests that would soon follow. His orange jumpsuit said "First Amendment" above the breast pocket.

While some media sources have portrayed Occupy Tampa as largely young, white, and middle class, about 20 people well into their 50s from MoveOn marched in solidarity with Occupy Tampa and the Move Your Money project. MoveOn organizer Harry Clayton helped plan the march.

And Victoria Young held a sign that showed the black power flag, and read, "We Are the 99 Percent."

A total of 20 Occupy Tampa protesters have been arrested during the last month. Lieutenant Colonel Jason Barger served in the US Army. He stands with Occupy Tampa because he said they are standing up to what he calls unjust treatment by law enforcement.

This morning was the second night in a row that protesters refused to leave the park, and Tim Sommers said that the group plans to continue risking arrest by camping in Kiley Garden until they have claimed the park.

Previous coverage of Occupy Tampa

Video of the arrests:

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