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Saturday, June 03, 2023

About 30 Occupy Gainesville members asked the City Commission on Thursday for permission to stay on Bo Diddley Community Plaza after public hours end at 11:30 p.m. rather than protest on the sidewalks at night.

"We don't choose the times we live in, but by our courage we do choose how we want to be remembered," said Lars Din, a member of the Occupy Gainesville movement.

Speakers shouted, threw their hands in the air and did spirit fingers in lieu of clapping or booing, which isn't allowed during commission meetings.

The commissioners said they are willing to talk about the issue with the protesters. Commissioners did not move the issue to a committee for further consideration.

Commissioner Randy Wells said the city has to be careful when making exceptions to rules.

"If we were to make an exception for you, there would really be very little legal basis for it to be available for anyone for any reason," he said.

Commissioner Thomas Hawkins said he'd be willing to have a conversation about the rule.

"I think it sounds perfectly reasonable to have the plaza open 18 hours a day," he said. "But maybe that's wrong."


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