Two more Occupy Tampa protesters were arrested Wednesday evening at the conclusion of a concert hosted by the Occupants. Occupy the Mic,featuring the musical group Sacred Sounds, was a community event hosted by Occupy Tampa in Kiley Gardens Amphitheater. Things were abruptly interrupted at 10pm when the Tampa Police Department arrived and, according to Occupant John Thomas, shouted, “Clear out! Clear out!” According to Thomas, “they made a beeline for Daniel (Walford), and demanded his identification. He was arrested shortly thereafter.”
According to members of Occupy Tampa, the arrest took between 30-45 minutes to complete. Afterwards, police invaded the Occupy Tampa encampment on the sidewalk adjacent to Curtis Hixon Park. Unlike previous encounters, police confiscated items from the protest site without attempting to identify a potential owner. Gina, a 15-year-old Occupant, stated, “They started grabbing things while people weren’t ready. They didn’t give much warning. As soon as they could, they grabbed stuff from the ‘safe zone’”. The “safe zone” is a space in which Occupants have stored their political literature, library books, and personal belongings for the last 45 days without police interference. When the police attempted to confiscate Gina’s bedding as she stood with her blankets under her arm, she responded, “No, this is mine!”
The police stood over the stolen items for approximately 20 minutes until an unmarked Tampa Police truck removed the items. Occupant Daiquiri Jones attempted to recover some of the items stolen from the sidewalk and was violently thrown to the ground and arrested. While on the ground, he continued to push items with his feet back towards other Occupants in an effort to recover the stolen items. Jones was removed from the park and driven away in a police vehicle approximately 30 minutes later. Both Walford and Jones are being held at Orient Road Jail on trespassing charges.
For now, Occupy Tampa remains resolved to remain at Curtis Hixon Park exercising their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble to redress grievances and hopes the Tampa Police Department will start serving and protecting the citizens’ rights.