Tim Sommers' occupation of Orient Road jail is called off
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12/22/11 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

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Occupy Tampa protester Tim Sommers in Kiley Garden.


photo by Josh Holton/WMNF

A judge ordered Occupy Tampa protester Tim Sommers released from jail this afternoon. Sommers was in custody most of this week. The presiding judge in his case revoked the activist’s bond during his arraignment on Monday. Occupy movement supporters were outraged with the original ruling because it could have left Sommers in jail for up to three months.

Judge James Dominguez remanded Sommers because he was arrested while awaiting trial for a previous trespassing charge from late November. Occupy Tampa members printed t-shirts with Sommers’ photo saying “free Tim Sommers”. One member, Owen Gaither, said a large group of supporters came to the Hillsborough County courthouse for his hearing in a show of support.

“We kept it super quiet because we were asked to. We kind of came to that agreement before hand to keep it professional. He was making his comments and his remarks and he was like, ‘now everyone can leave’ and about half the courtroom got up and left. Of course we all had smiley faces on and jazz were up in the air, but we kept if quiet and very professional, even turned our t-shirts out on the request of Tim’s mom. Just because that’s his freedom; anything we can do to help that situation.”

“How about Tim? What was his reaction like?”

“He was smiling for sure, but he kept it real calm and cool. I think I was more emotional than – at least what he was showing. I was ready to cry just to see him in the orange jumpsuit because he’s such a good dude, a peaceful dude, just a great person to be around. And to see him there for that was breaking my heart. But he didn’t show very much emotion except for a nice big smile when he knew he was going to get out.”

“Was he in any type of restraints at all? Handcuffs or anything?”

“Yeah, yeah, and the orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.”

Also in attendance was defense attorney Linda Moreno who is best known for representing Sami Al-Arian. She said the ability of judges to enforce laws on an inconsistent basis could be troublesome.

“It is of concern when judges are, I believe, locking up protesters who are charged with misdemeanors with no bond and keeping them in over the holiday season for some projected trial in March. Now if that information is correct, I believe that may be a misuse of discretion.”

Moreno spoke to a group of about 20 Occupy Tampa members following court proceedings. She cautioned them to make smart decisions. The warning was in response to Judge Dominguez’s claim that he had received threatening emails regarding the Tim Sommers case.

Previous Occupy Tampa coverage

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