Charges dropped for two Occupy Tampa members

02/29/12 Janelle Irwin
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Charges have been dropped by the State Attorney’s office for two members of Occupy Tampa who were arrested for trespassing in Kiley Gardens in November. Their lawyer argued the charges were unconstitutional based on a precedent set last year in St. Petersburg.

Attorney Roger Breit actually filed two defenses for Becky Rubright and Stephanie Cannon. They were arrested separately on consecutive nights. According to a press release from Occupy Tampa, the police reports said each was asked to leave the park and then arrested without incident. Chris Kuleci, who wrote the press release, said the trespass cannot be defended.

“One of them referencing an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from last September that stated that four homeless men who had been trespassed from Williams Park in St. Petersburg for a period of one year, were not given due process through the Constitution because they had no legal resource to go and challenge that trespassing warning. If the Parks Department said, ‘no, you’re trespassed’, they couldn’t go to any courts to have an opinion to overturn that.”

According to Kuleci both Rubright and Cannon are glad to have their legal troubles over. But the group is most celebrating what the outcome could mean for other occupiers still facing charges.

“The city of Tampa might not be interested in having these cases go to trial because it would show the conflict between their city ordinances and a higher court’s appeal ruling against them. So, I think their city ordinances are now probably going to be found unconstitutional based on the appeals court ruling.”

Another member of Occupy Tampa, Alicia Dion, is set for trial on Monday. Her attorneys have filed a motion that claims the ordinance used as a basis for her arrest is also unconstitutional because it is overly vague. She was arrested in October wile lying on the sidewalk in front of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

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