October 21, 2011

First Occupy Tampa Arrests

Perhaps it was a consquence of yesterday's Tampa City Council meeting, or perhaps tensions were just heading toward a confrontation regardless. This morning, six Occupy Tampa protesters were apparently arrested for violating City Code Section 22-8 which prohibits placing an article or thing on the sidewalk. When I arrived, the police were gone, but three news vehicles were parked on the sidewalk. Evidently a vehicle on the sidewalk does not violate City Code Section 22-8.

The remaining Occupiers felt that the police had selectively targeted a subset of the protesters - those with sleeping gear

Nick W had followed the police around trying to get arrested, but with no success. Nick demonstrated one of his unsuccessful poses.

The video footage of the arrests is not particularly interesting, but it does show that the Occupiers are documenting everything.

The Tampa police had clearly told the Occupiers that they were not allowed to sleep between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. After interactions with Tampa City Council members yesterday, at least some of the protesters were convinced that they would not be breaking the law by sleeping on the sidewalk during the day. On my way home from Tampa, I heard John Dingfelder, a lawyer with the ACLU, on radio station WMNF. His opinion was that Tampa would not be able to enforce their ordinance in this manner. Perhaps the City of Tampa's legal team had their doubts as well, since it took a week and a half to make the first arrest. Short term, the logistics of getting arrested and avoiding arrest will likely continue to preoccupy most Occupy Tampa protesters.

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