Six protesters from Occupy Tampa detained while laying or sitting on sidewalk during the day
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.
â€œTheyâ€™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 Iâ€™m here to stand up for our rights. We have the right to freedom of assembly in a public space. Iâ€™m in a public space and Iâ€™m assembling.â€
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 werenâ€™t convinced it was against city ordinance to be on the sidewalk.
Police wouldnâ€™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'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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