FIU Police Arrest Occupy Activists For Attempting Concert
Unlike the Occupy movements in various cities throughout the United States, the Occupy Miami movement survived 2011 without a single activist getting arrested.
That all changed Thursday when some Occupy Miami activists drove across town to Florida International University to join Occupy FIU activists for a planned concert on campus.
The purpose of the concert was to commemorate the victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti exactly two years earlier as well as to raise awareness of the skyrocketing tuition at Miami’s largest university.
It ended up with seven activists getting arrested for interfering with an educational institution (even though at first they were charged with unlawful assembly) after police told them they would not be allowed to hold their concert.
Permission or Permit?
The activists said they had received permission from a university ombudsman to set up amplifiers in the Deuxieme Maison pit at the center of campus.
But once they started setting up, university police told them they would need a permit to perform with amplifiers.
Occupy FIU students attempted to negotiate with the officers and everything seemed cordial at first, which is how it’s always been down here since the Occupy Miami activists set up their encampment at Government Center on October 15.
At first, police told them the band would be allowed to perform acoustically without their amplifiers. And although disappointed, the activists said they would do just that.
But then police changed their minds and told them they had to leave the DM pit entirely, advising that they move the concert to the Graham Center Field, which has been designated as a “free speech zone” by university officials. At least until 9 p.m. when the free speech zone had to be evacuated.
“Diplomacy is Over”
At 4:33 p.m., after about an hour of negotiating with the officers, police gave them five minutes to clear out of the pit, telling William Sanchez of Occupy FIU that “diplomacy is over.”
So the band started packing up and the other students gathered their belongings to make their way across campus to the free speech zone.
At 4:37 p.m., an FIU student began speaking on a megaphone, telling fellow activists that they should all write letters to the administration to complain about not being able to go through with their concert as they were promised.
An officer ordered him to stop talking on the megaphone, which apparently violated their no amplifier rule.
So the student put the megaphone down and yelled “mic check” to begin the Occupy method of speaking to a large crowd by having them repeat each line he speaks.
At 4:38 p.m., police moved in and started making arrests, making good on their five-minute promise.
Apparently, they don’t understand that five minutes in Miami actually means 20 minutes.
After making seven arrests, police drove off with their prisoners while a group of activists made their way to speak to FIU Police Chief Alexander Casas, who told them that of the seven activists, four were not actual students, which somehow made them even more in violation.
However, FIU has always been open to the public. It is a public university with a section of its parking lot metered for public parking.
And unlike a grade school, there is no requirement that visitors need to check in at the front office.
Protesting at Jail
The arrestees were transported to the main county jail off Northwest 12th Ave. and 13th St. while a group of activists set up a tent outside the building in protest. But a Miami police officer drove by and ordered them to remove the tent, so they placed it on top of a car.
The activists are organizing a demonstration on campus today to continue to protest against the arrests.
“We’re also considering filing a complaint with the ACLU,” said Andrea Nunez, 23, who graduated from FIU last year with a degree in international relations.
The photos below are from before the arrests took place when police were still being cordial.
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