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Pro-Palestine Rallies Have Arrived at Florida Universities

May 09, 2024

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Police have made numerous arrests of students and employees involved in in pro-Palestinian protests on the University of Florida and South Florida campuses. University of Florida police arrested several people on Monday night during a pro-Palestine demonstration "after being given multiple warnings." A free Palestine protest at the University of South Florida's Tampa campus resulted in three additional arrests on Monday. Despite the arrests, the protests continued on both campuses.

Student During Pro-Palestine Protest on South Florida Campus
The University of Florida states that protestors are not permitted to use amplified sound, block pathways, camp on university property, issue threats, or engage in violence. Additionally, students and employees could face suspension or termination for violating these rules. The university released a statement saying: "The University 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." The Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society will be meeting Tuesday with other supporters on campus to plan for another protest. "Even though the university attempted to suppress us multiple times even before this event, we're still here and we're still proud to exercise our First Amendment right," Tyler Ramirez, one of the students involved in the protest quoted during an interview.

Let's discuss the ramifications of protesting outside the rules as set forth by a college's policies and guidelines. Like the University of Florida, all colleges have policies and procedures for expressing First Amendment rights. A violation of these policies and procedures can lead to administrative sanctions against both students and teachers. Students can be reprimanded, suspended or even expelled. It is important to know that there are due process protections on every college campus to safeguard a student's rights. Usually, a student is brought in initially for an informational meeting. The person in charge of the case will outline for the student his or her rights and the potential punishments. A student can represent him/herself through the process, but they are entitled to a representative. However, it is recommended that a student or parent on behalf the student hire a lawyer. Statements made by students, innocuous or not, can be used in the case. The Miami criminal lawyers have used their vast experience representing students at FIU, Nova Southeastern and St. Thomas for various violations and have obtained great success.

The school's administrative sanctions are only half the battle. If arrested, a student is facing criminal charges in the jurisdiction where the school is located. Charges can range from disorderly conduct, trespass, battery, assault, aggravated battery and aggravated assault. God willing, the State does not charge a hate crime in the event a minority is involved as the victim of a violent offense. Being charged with a hate crime significantly enhances the potential penalties one faces in the criminal justice system. If arrested, immediately seek representation from a criminal attorney to guide you through the process.

University of Florida As Students Are Arrested During Pro-Palestine Protests on Campus
As the Israel/Hamas conflict continues, the protests apparently are moving further south and could find their way on to campuses in Broward and Miami-Dade County. Evidence of this was indicated by the arrest of seven people at a pro-Palestinian protest Monday in Miami. Miami Police said the protesters were arrested for obstructing traffic and refusing to remain at the designated demonstration area near the intersection of Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 3rd Street.

Anyone who is being accused of a campus violation or criminally charged as a result of participating in a protest or rally should contact DMT as soon as possible so your rights are protected. The earlier an attorney is contacted, the more defensible the case will be. Remember, there are defenses to every case. Always speak to lawyer before speaking with anyone about your case. Protect yourself and your case by always invoking your rights. Contact Donet, McMillan & Trontz at (305) 444-0030 for more information.
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