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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Occupy Gainesville will take a stand at City Hall today, with protesters speaking during the citizen comment portion of the evening City Commission meeting to ask for permission to peacefully assemble on Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

The protesters will petition city representatives to allow them to occupy the plaza overnight, according to an Occupy Gainesville news release.

Movement supporters have submitted a request for a permit to continue their overnight occupation until Dec. 31, 2012, said Jeremiah Tattersall, a member of Occupy Gainesville and 2008 UF alumnus.

He said he hasn't heard anything from the city government about it yet, but protesters are open to negotiation.

Cassia Laham, a 21-year-old UF political science senior, will be there supporting the movement as she has since it began in Gainesville.

"The goal is to basically get [the city government] to support the Occupy Gainesville movement and the Occupy movement as a whole," she said. "Nobody's hollering at anyone late at night. To be honest, I don't know why they would disapprove."

Members of the movement have held an overnight presence by staying on the sidewalks around the plaza since Oct. 12.

Protesters received a city permit for the first night of their occupation, but it was good for only one day, Tattersall said.

On the second night of the occupation, when they had no permit, four people were arrested, including Bo Diddley's son, Ellas Anthony McDaniel.

Since then, there have been no arrests and a waning police presence, Tattersall said.

Although the majority of protesters will be going to the commission meeting in the evening, a few will stay behind to continue the occupation of the plaza, which closes at 11 p.m.

Protesters usually have until 11:30 p.m. to clear out of the area, after which they remain on surrounding sidewalks and even sleep there.

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Tattersall said he thinks there is a chance that the city commissioners and Mayor Craig Lowe will support their request. At least, he hopes they will.

"It's unorthodox," he said of the request. "We know that, but we know that it's possible."

Lowe and the city commissioners couldn't be reached for comment by press time.

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