Five protesters arrested by USF University Police Department

University of South Florida

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SDS logo. Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF News.

Police say five people were arrested by the USF University Police Department during a protest Tuesday.

WMNF interviewed Jordana Yampolsky. She isn’t a student, but she was detained during today’s protest.

“I was made aware of a protest happening at USF today in regards to USF suspending the SDS, the Students for a Democratic Society, after holding an event.

“They are suspended on the grounds of breaking COVID regulations. But, as we all know, USF has classes. They have students walking around. They host events. So, it was clear that that was just trying to trample on the free speech of the students.

“So, I came out to support them today, to ask that USF drop the charges. That’s why I showed up. It only took about 5 minutes for the police to say it was an unlawful assembly and start arresting people at random.

“So, I’m a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation in Tampa, and I was planning on speaking at this event about the anti-protester bills in Florida called HB 1 and SB 484. They’re just trying to make dissent illegal basically. It’s about a sixty-page document.

“But the Republicans in Florida are trying to push this for some ‘public safety.’ But they’re clearly just trying to stop dissent. They’re issuing mandatory minimums for protesters. They’re making standard protesting techniques, like blocking traffic, a 3rd degree felony. They’re also holding this over the head of local municipalities who choose to take money out of their inflated police budgets. So that’s a huge worry as well.

“And then again, this is just a giant attack on all dissent and the entire working class of Florida. because if you are arrested under these new laws, you will be ineligible for state aid or employment. So, no more food stamps, no more school grants, no more public housing, or vouchers for childcare. It’s really insane.

“So, I would say there were between 12 and 20, definitely less than twenty participants, all of us much more than 6 feet apart. A police officer came down and told us we needed to leave. But then, just walked away, didn’t tell us what was wrong with our ‘assembly.’ We were very spread apart, so it didn’t break any COVID restrictions. And then, a few minutes later came back and gave the announcement that it was an unlawful assembly, and we had two minutes to disperse.

“But not even 20 seconds went by and they started arresting people, obviously just at random. I believe there were six of us that were taken. And they escorted us to their police cars and issued us all written arrests for trespassing. And we all have notices to appear now, and are not allowed on the campus. So, this did affect students too. So now they’ve issued a trespassing on students at the University, are no longer allowed to go to their school.”

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In a press release on their website, University of South Florida police say protesters were given “several minutes” to comply with trespass warnings and the “arrested individuals were issued a Notice to Appear and released on their own recognizance.”

 

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