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Police make first arrests in Florida of pro-Palestinian protesters at two university campuses

Fresh Take Florida

Police and state troopers arrested nine pro-Palestinian protesters late Monday who had occupied a campus plaza on the University of Florida for days. They were among the first college arrests in Florida involving national protests on campuses against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

University police Sgt. Courtney Marie Burgoyne said officers arrested nine protesters, who were led away in handcuffs. At least seven of the nine were current or former UF students, according to university records. One was facing a felony charge. It followed the arrest of three other protesters at the University of South Florida in Tampa hours earlier.

RELATED:As pro-Palestinian protests spread, more university leaders weigh police involvement

The administration at Florida’s flagship public university said in a statement the protesters had violated new rules announced last week that included “no disruptions” and a ban on camping, sleeping, bullhorns and tents — but it didn’t immediately say exactly what the protesters were accused of doing wrong. A spokesman, Steve Orlando, declined Monday night to answer questions about the arrests.

“I do not have to tell you anything,” an unidentified campus police officer told a protester at the scene. About 30 protesters remained after the arrests. Some shouted “shame” and “who do you protect?” at officers and troopers.

County jail and university records identified those arrested at UF as Tess Jaden Segal, 20, a sustainability major from Weston, Florida; Augustino Matthias Pulliam, 20, a former theater major from Jacksonville, Florida; Charly Keanu Pringle, 21, of Jacksonville; Parker Stanley Hovis, 26, a computer science major from Gainesville; Keely Nicole Gliwa, 23, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Gainesville; Allan Hektor Frasheri, 20, a philosophy major from Largo, Florida; Roseanna Yashoda Bisram, 20, an engineering studies major from Ocala, Florida; Allison Marie Rooney, 23, of Valrico, Florida; and Mary Caitlin Boerboom, 24, a former philosophy major from Chesapeake, Virginia.

Frasheri was facing a felony battery charge accusing him of spitting in the face of a police officer. The others faced combinations of misdemeanor charges of trespassing, failing to obey police, resisting arrest, or wearing a mask on public property.

Under the university’s new rules, students who violate them will be suspended, and employees or professors would be fired.

In a statement emailed to reporters 16 minutes after the arrests, Orlando said police gave the protesters “multiple warnings and multiple opportunities to comply” before they were arrested.

RELATED: Students take part in global walkout calling for cease fire in Gaza

“This is not complicated: The University of Florida is not a daycare, and we do not treat protesters like children – they knew the rules, they broke the rules, and they’ll face the consequences,” Orlando said in the statement. “For many days, we have patiently told protesters – many of whom are outside agitators – that they were able to exercise their right to free speech and free assembly.”

The arrests occurred about 7:40 p.m. Monday on the school's Plaza of the Americas, the centrally located square in the heart of campus. Law enforcement officers — including about 15 campus and municipal police officers and about six Florida Highway Patrol troopers – marched toward the plaza and protesters with batons in hand. No one was struck.

Police appeared to shut off power in the area during the arrests then restored it immediately afterward.

Last week was the last day of regularly scheduled classes for the semester. Some students are finishing final exams this week.

Sunday night, as police explained the university’s new rules to protesters, some of them criticized officers and compared them to members of the white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Israeli Defense Force: “IDF, KKK, UFPD, you’re all the same,” protesters chanted as someone beat on a drum.


This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at vivienneserret@ufl.edu. You can donate to support our students here.