As the night went on, protesters set up tents in the city park to protect from cold weather and wind. Police initially came and told the protesters to remove their tents, but allowed them to remain inside the park. Several hours later when the protesters had started going to sleep inside the park police officers returned and told them that they would have to leave the park. After another warning, the officers returned to their cars and protesters feared they were preparing to arrest them. Tim Sommers said that they were staying in the park “no matter what” and stated that he hoped he would inspire others to join them in Kiley Gardens again tomorrow.
Eyewitness reports indicated that eleven cars and approximately fifteen officers arrived in the dead of the night to arrest the four peaceful occupiers. As the arrests took place fellow protesters used The People’s Mic to recite the First Amendment of the Constitution. Recent court decisions in several states have declared that sleeping in public parks is a form of protest, and thus protected under the First Amendment. These Occupy Tampa participants are challenging Mayor Buckhorn’s undemocratic declaration that he will not consider their proposals and respect the peaceful occupiers requests to petition their government for redress of grievances.
As of the time of this writing, the four protesters in the park have been identified as Tim, Scott, Larry and Nick. Through Facebook, Larry informed the wider group that the four of them did not wish to be bailed out. Supporters have expressed solidarity and are hoping for their quick release. The group’s scheduled Potluck Lunch tomorrow is unaffected by the arrests and the occupiers at Curtis Hixon have enjoyed a relatively peaceful night. Morale remains high following a positive turnout in support of Occupy Tampa’s educational initiatives yesterday and the group plans to hold another rally for Veteran’s Affairs on November 12th in downtown Tampa.
UPDATE: As of 4:15AM the four protesters mentioned above have been arrested and taken into police custody. The story has been updated to reflect the results of eyewitness reports.