Occupy Tampa activist gets sent home, not to jail
Occupy Tampa arrests have slowed down, but the court proceedings are in full swing. Last week, most of the 29 protesters arrested at Riverfront Park on December 2 were arraigned. The bail for Occupy Tampa protester Tim Sommers was revoked during his first hearing and he was sent to jail. That left others worried the same thing would happen to them. Daiquiri Jones has been arrested 5 times while participating in the occupy movement but he was not detained at his arraignment.
â€œA lot of these arrests, you canâ€™t really be certain whether they constitute a legal arrest or an arrest that is not as â€“ I mean it doesnâ€™t follow the correct procedures or it might not be substantial. So, to keep me in jail or to have me stay in jail until the trial, I feel like it would be punishing me before I actually had a chance to defend my case.â€
If someone is arrested while awaiting trial, a Florida state statute allows any bond on a previous charge to be revoked. That put Jones and several other Occupy members at risk. But Tim Sommers was the only Occupy Tampa protester who had to go back to jail last week. Defense attorney Linda Moreno, who defended Sami Al-Arian, said she thinks it might mean judges are coming around to what the occupy movement is all about.
â€œSo I think perhaps maybe judges are sensitive to that. Iâ€™m concerned that these movements are being dismissed on the basis of how some occupiers or some protesters look. Quite frankly thatâ€™s a pretty specious attitude to have. Iâ€™d much rather have lunch with a guy who is wearing a peace t-shirt than the hedge fund, Brooks Brothers suited guy.â€
The state recommended Jones and other Occupy Tampa repeat offenders be kept in jail until their trials. Cari Welsh, who is also with Occupy Tampa, was relieved when judge Paul Jeske sent Jones away with only a stern warning Thursday afternoon.
â€œI wish the judiciary system were different of course and more just, but I think itâ€™s possible that the reason they were more lenient today was because they realized that Tampa was being very strict compared to other cities and they didnâ€™t want to make themselves look that bad.â€
Judge Jeskeâ€™s warning to Jones was simple. Donâ€™t get arrested again. Jones has been trespassed from Curtis Hixon Park where the Occupy Tampa encampment is set up along the sidewalk. He can be on the sidewalk, but one foot into the park could land Jones back in jail.
â€œIâ€™m not going to give up on the cause definitely and Iâ€™m not going to participate in any illegal actions. Though, from experience I know that what we consider a legal action and what is a legal action as far as weâ€™re concerned, the police may not consider a legal action or they may arrest someone for strategic purposes.â€
Jones was the only person arrested at Riverfront Park who was not attempting to camp there. He was standing with other protesters on the sidewalk, but police say he entered the park following a warning. Jones will be tried on March 13 for that trespassing charge.
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