Occupy Tampa protesters claim police are targeting specific people for arrest
As the number of arrests associated with Occupy Tampa has climbed to almost 30, some occupiers think police officers are targeting specific people. They say arrests for trespassing are made on an inconsistent basis.
Joseph “Felix” Perry has been arrested twice. He’s also been trespassed from both Kiley Garden and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park which has left him unable to attend important meetings. He said if officers arrested him, there were others who should have been arrested as well.
“Officer Bucher decided that I was trespassing and he arrested me and it was a very directed personal attack because Officer Bucher apparently doesn’t like me very much. And he targeted me specifically out of a crowd. And it’s important to note that during my arrest and in the hour or so following it, people were in that street, in that round-about all night and no action was taken against them. Only myself and Ashley were arrested.”
And "Pepe" Kovanis, who was among one of the first Occupy Tampa protesters to be arrested, said the police are using big brother to keep regulars out of the parks.
“The police definitely come here and they videotape every incident that they’re out here. They definitely review those tapes to see who is here – who’s present, who’s been here – and then they target them with trespassing out of the park. We’ve had quite a few people get trespassed in the daytime for sitting in the park, for standing in the park, in my opinion to make it difficult for these people to maintain their presence here.”
Daiquiri Jones was arrested a second time for trespassing in Curtis Hixon Park during the opening of an outdoor ice rink on November 10th. He agreed that law enforcement seemed to be picking and choosing who to detain.
“I wasn’t making a big spectacle. There were other protesters with their signs. They were standing around, basically with signs, holding them up near the skating rink.”
“And they were in the same general area as you?”
“Yeah, they were in the same general area as me.”
“But they weren’t arrested?”
“None of them were arrested.”
“Do you feel that you were singled out at all?”
“Definitely. Again, they charged me with trespassing and I guess the trespass still applies for when I was arrested weeks earlier for the same situation.”
The Tampa Police Department did not respond to requests for comment by deadline. Protesters who have been trespassed from Curtis Hixon Park can still participate in events on the sidewalk along North Ashley Drive.
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