By: Cari Welsh
On the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 1, Tampa police arrested a woman who had handed off a gun to a man who used it to shoot Dontavious Clark, 22, several times after a verbal altercation. SWAT went in to search the Robles Park address, but the suspect, Darnell Ammons, remains on the loose.
That same day, protesters of Occupy Tampa, a movement in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, had planned and announced ‘Public Space Liberation Day.‘ Protesters met at Curtis Hixon Park, shared stories about why they ‘occupy’ and held a ceremonial General Assembly meeting. They then marched over to Riverfront Park and held an AIDS vigil forWorld AIDS Day, and began planning to use Riverfront Park as a place to peacefully assemble and reach out to the local community. The announcement to ‘liberate the park’ was sent out a week and a half prior, on Nov. 21, giving the police, city council and media plenty of notice to ask questions or begin negotiations. On the night of Dec. 1, however, more than two dozen Tampa police invaded the small encampment, which consisted of three tents, one canopy, several cases of bottled water, and about 50 quiet protesters. Rather than continuing the search for Ammons, who should be considered armed and dangerous, Tampa police focused on arresting peaceful, unarmed protesters. It leaves one to wonder, where are the priorities? Protecting the community, or protecting Wall Street?