Friday, October 21, 2011


CONTACT: Media Team
Tampa, FL (October 21) — The Tampa Bay General Assembly (TBGA) has decided to support the autonomous actions of individuals who oppose economic injustice and defend the First Amendment right to free speech and assembly. Therefore, because the city of Tampa refuses to follow the Constitution and its amendments, some members of Occupy Tampa, who believe the right to assemble means occupying a public space, will claim a downtown park tomorrow at sundown.
The People of Occupy Tampa have remained cooperative with authorities until today’s arrests. An extensive amount of documentation show that when police have asked protesters to leave parks, remove tents, and clear sidewalks, we have complied in an attempt to set a precedent and prove that we are not law-breaking troublemakers who simply wish to pester those in power. We have followed city codes and ordinances, though opposed to them, for as long as possible. In our endeavors, we have realized that the police, the City Council and the Mayor are at the mercy of economic and political forces that, over many decades, have enabled the prosperous to further prosper, but have systematically disallowed any serious change.
We have listened, waited, complied and tried through every legal channel possible to acquire a suitable place to form a permanent, public presence. The best we were given was the sidewalk with leniency to sleep during hours assigned by the police. However, during those hours, police have grown increasingly hostile, waking people every hour, videotaping them during their most vulnerable state, turning on sirens and honking horns to disrupt sleep. We have remained clean, taken care of public bathrooms and sidewalks, and organized resources to clear a path for pedestrians. When the police asked for four feet of clearance, we marked off six. When the police asked us to leave Gaslight Park at sundown, we left an hour early.
Mayor Buckhorn has remained neutral and noncommittal while the Police publicly called protesters, though protected by the First Amendment, “children who refuse to wake for school.” Councilwoman Mulhern addressed the General Assembly on the one vague ordinance that states it is prohibited to block sidewalks with objects, but she was unclear about its interpretation. The following day, protesters filled City Council to express their concerns and the city attorney didn’t even know whether the ordinance viewed humans as objects.
The People of Occupy Tampa are ready to announce, after a month of peacefully and lawfully assembling, that no matter the interpretation of law, we refuse to be considered objects any longer. We deserve the constitutionally protected right to assemble and address our grievances.
To all Florida citizens who patriotically believe that the right to assemble means occupying a park in solidarity with occupations around the world, though no one speaks on behalf of the General Assembly, gather at Curtis Hixon Park at 7:00 pm on Saturday and claim what is rightfully yours.

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