Ellas Anthony McDaniel, the 56-year-old son of rhythm and blues singer Bo Diddley, was arrested for trespassing in the downtown plaza named for his father.
At least four members of the Occupy Gainesville movement, including McDaniel, were arrested Friday morning for trespassing on the Bo Diddley Community Plaza after the park closed. The demonstration was peaceful and the protesters said they decided to get arrested to prove a point.
"This is my father's park," said McDaniel, a Gainesville resident. "For them to arrest me in that plaza is ludicrous. ... I'm an American. This is freedom of assembly."
About 50 members of Occupy Gainesville gathered in the plaza, holding signs that read, "Where's Our Bailout?" and waiting for the roughly six officers to tell them to leave.
The park officially closed at 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Gainesville Police Department officers gave the crowd of about 50 activists about half an hour to move to the sidewalks, where they could legally stay.
Some of those who chose to stay in the plaza stood on a gray block inscribed with the Bill of Rights. They said they were waiting to get arrested.
Cpl. Angelina Valuri said the procedure was for officers to give out a warning and then to give the protesters a notice to appear, which counts as an arrest. The person gets released and can go home that night.
Protesters were not taken to jail unless they entered the plaza after being given a notice to appear.
The people who were arrested were led to a police car in handcuffs and released minutes later with the notice.
"We're just enforcing a law," Valuri said. "We have a job to do."
The members of Occupy Gainesville had a permit to stay in the plaza Wednesday night and Thursday morning, but the permit did not last past normal public hours Thursday night.
For McDaniel, the permit didn't matter. He said it was wrong that the city gave Occupy Gainesville a permit for only one night.
"There's a symbolic stone in front of me that says freedom of speech," he said, referring to the gray stone with the Bill of Rights on it. "I feel like a number of my rights have been violated."
McDaniel, who also has property in Hawthorne and Archer, said he planned to stay on the sidewalk with the other members of Occupy Gainesville and said he'd support other members who chose to get arrested, even if they decided to go to jail.
"I'll be there," he said. "I'll be there. I'll bail them out. And I'm not caring how many there is."