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FIU Police Arrest Occupy Activists For Attempting Concert

January 13, 2012 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Local News  | 16 Comments

Unlike the Occupy movements in various cities throughout the United States, the Occupy Miami movement survived 2011 without a single activist getting arrested.

That all changed Thursday when some Occupy Miami activists drove across town to Florida International University to join Occupy FIU activists for a planned concert on campus.

The purpose of the concert was to commemorate the victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti exactly two years earlier as well as to raise awareness of the skyrocketing tuition at Miami’s largest university.

It ended up with seven activists getting arrested for interfering with an educational institution (even though at first they were charged with unlawful assembly) after police told them they would not be allowed to hold their concert.

Above: Snapped with my iPhone as I was video recording

Permission or Permit?

The activists said they had received permission from a university ombudsman to set up amplifiers in the Deuxieme Maison pit at the center of campus.

But once they started setting up, university police told them they would need a permit to perform with amplifiers.

Occupy FIU students attempted to negotiate with the officers and everything seemed cordial at first, which is how it’s always been down here since the Occupy Miami activists set up their encampment at Government Center on October 15.

At first, police told them the band would be allowed to perform acoustically without their amplifiers. And although disappointed, the activists said they would do just that.

But then police changed their minds and told them they had to leave the DM pit entirely, advising that they move the concert to the Graham Center Field, which has been designated as a “free speech zone” by university officials. At least until 9 p.m. when the free speech zone had to be evacuated.

“Diplomacy is Over”

At 4:33 p.m., after about an hour of negotiating with the officers, police gave them five minutes to clear out of the pit, telling William Sanchez of Occupy FIU that “diplomacy is over.”

So the band started packing up and the other students gathered their belongings to make their way across campus to the free speech zone.

At 4:37 p.m., an FIU student began speaking on a megaphone, telling fellow activists that they should all write letters to the administration to complain about not being able to go through with their concert as they were promised.

An officer ordered him to stop talking on the megaphone, which apparently violated their no amplifier rule.

So the student put the megaphone down and yelled “mic check” to begin the Occupy method of speaking to a large crowd by having them repeat each line he speaks.

At 4:38 p.m., police moved in and started making arrests, making good on their five-minute promise.

Apparently, they don’t understand that five minutes in Miami actually means 20 minutes.

Above: A screenshot of myself from this video as I video recorded the first arrest

After making seven arrests, police drove off with their prisoners while a group of activists made their way to speak to FIU Police Chief Alexander Casas, who told them that of the seven activists, four were not actual students, which somehow made them even more in violation.

However, FIU has always been open to the public. It is a public university with a section of its parking lot metered for public parking.

And unlike a grade school, there is no requirement that visitors need to check in at the front office.

Protesting at Jail

The arrestees were transported to the main county jail off Northwest 12th Ave. and 13th St. while a group of activists set up a tent outside the building in protest. But a Miami police officer drove by and ordered them to remove the tent, so they placed it on top of a car.

The activists are organizing a demonstration on campus today to continue to protest against the arrests.

“We’re also considering filing a complaint with the ACLU,” said Andrea Nunez, 23, who graduated from FIU last year with a degree in international relations.

The photos below are from before the arrests took place when police were still being cordial.





Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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16 Comments on

"FIU Police Arrest Occupy Activists For Attempting Concert"

Stephanie Garcia says:

Just for reference, here is the school’s official “Free Assembly Policy” on their website -

Posted on 01/13/2012 at 7:38 AM

Davy Vara says:


Posted on 01/13/2012 at 7:56 AM

the Bulldog says:

nice work…

Posted on 01/13/2012 at 9:05 AM

Annonymous says:

You were warned.

Posted on 01/13/2012 at 10:15 AM

Zhaliberty says:

Police arresting people for charges that they will determine after they get back to the station, and can look through their lil code books to figure out.  When are police officers going to start protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

Posted on 01/13/2012 at 12:56 PM

Jimmy Jimenez says:

i was with you Carlos filming throughout with my small and humble photo camera and i do appreciate your kindness, advise and human quality. i never met you before and never saw your work either..but i am amazed. i hope that it is not the last time we meet and talk and thank you for tracking us in our work for freedom, equality and justice. we are not stopping because of this abuses. we are more enraged to fight even harder and nationwide.

Posted on 01/13/2012 at 6:02 PM

Jeff Zelaya says:

Carlos, how come they didn’t arrest you? Just curious on how the police picked their “victims”.

Posted on 01/13/2012 at 7:12 PM

James @Printing Services says:

Nice video! The ending is just incredible. Good thing you guys have all the guts to film this.

Posted on 01/14/2012 at 2:52 AM

Christy says:

Excellent article and video Carlos. I agree with Jeff and I’m surprised that you weren’t arrested or told to stop filming.

Posted on 01/14/2012 at 8:32 AM

Carlos Miller says:

I was threatened with arrest a couple of times. I didn’t include that footage in this video because I wanted to keep it tight with the arrests of the students.

But I will include it in the video I plan on editing for my blog.

The reason they didn’t arrest me is because it was obvious I was media and not part of the group. They were smart enough to know that arresting a journalist could open up even a bigger can of worms.

I had two professional looking cameras, one with a professional shotgun microphone, and I was wearing headphones for audio, so there was no question I was media.

Posted on 01/14/2012 at 11:27 AM

Phil Ander says:

Thanks for being there, Carlos. wink

Posted on 01/14/2012 at 9:31 PM

Sara Fernandez says:

I am relieved that we… US citizens still have people like you to document and publicize the violations of our civil liberties and our rights to free speech.  Thank you!  I am the PROUD mother of one of the men unlawfully arrested.  It has taken this disgraceful action for me to finally understand what my son meant when he chose not to attend FIU and told me he did not fit there.  My son unquestionably does not fit at FIU and will never fit anywhere that his first amendment rights are violated.  Thank you Carlos!  SHAME ON YOU FIU!

Posted on 01/15/2012 at 12:16 PM

Michelle says:

Great job, Carlos! Doesn’t everyone have to be read their miranda rights and be told why they are being arrested? That is WHACK!

It is amazing you got away without being arrested wink

Posted on 01/16/2012 at 8:45 AM

Profe says:

I would like to know the outcome of the arrests, charges, and plans if any against FIU.

Posted on 01/17/2012 at 10:05 AM

Blackford Oakes says:

Mainstream or not, it was great coverage/video.

Glad Miamibeach411 got the lead. Local news would have only given a snippet and half ass content.

Carlos rocked it on this one.

Posted on 01/18/2012 at 12:36 PM

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