Nineteen Occupy Orlando members arrested for trespassing (VIDEO)
Beginning at 2:10 a.m. this morning, 19 activists affiliated with the Occupy Orlando movement were arrested for trespassing at Senator Beth Johnson Park. The arrests are the first in the week-long occupation, which had previously been regarded as somewhat anomalous among other Occupy movements for the amicable relationship it had forged with city police.
According to OPD spokesman Vince Ogburn, police were originally called to the scene in response to a noise complaint. An activist who was at the park tells us that there had already been some heated debate over whether to perform an act of civil disobedience–indeed, the Weekly has heard some internal grumbling that the group has been too respectful of authority, especially after it took down its small village of tarp structures Thursday at the request of police and code enforcement–and thus when police arrived, the groups splintered into two factions, one inside the park willing to get arrested, and one outside of it which wasn’t (at least not at that specific time).
Occupy Orlando spokeswoman Brook Hines said that the action was not officially condoned by the group’s official decision-making body, the amorphous “general assembly,” but it was not condemned, either. “The way it happened last night was completely spontaneous,” she says. “No one [at Occupy Orlando] stands in the way of anyone doing a civil disobedience, but it wasn’t a group decision to do that.” She and other activists have indicated that in other cities with more aggressive police response to protest movements, official group decisions to break local or state laws have been later wielded by prosecutors brandishing meeting minutes as evidence of conspiracy to commit a crime.
As of noon today, about eight of the 19 arrested had been released, according to Hines. She says that the group’s daily general assemblies are still to be conducted as planned–today’s is set for 4 p.m. The group’s next large march is scheduled for November 5.