Three people were arrested Tuesday night after a showdown between Occupy Miami protesters and authorities, police said.
About 50 Occupy Miami protesters were told by Miami-Dade Police officers that they had to leave the park by sunset or be arrested for trespassing. Only six protesters refused to leave the park, and they used a makeshift barricade to stay despite being served with an eviction notice by the county on Monday.
Miami-Dade Police moved the majority of the protesters, who were among the 100 people who have been camping on the lawn since October.
“How are you going to come here and tell me I can’t live here?” protester Romy Mahmuud told NBC Miami. “This is my house. This is where we live. We own these lands. So I’m staying until the end.”
“If I have to go to jail to exercise my rights, then that just shows where this country is headed," he added.
The letter from the county says anyone who remained on the lawn could be arrested for trespassing.
Occupy Miami has been active since October and has not been involved in major confrontations with police. Protester Stephanie Garcia said that the general consensus among members was that county’s recent actions were part of a nationwide crackdown.
“There have been several occupations which have been targeted recently and we believe that they may be preemptively keeping people from coming down to join Miami,” Garcia said.
That belief is centered on a discrepancy between a verbal reason given for the eviction and the notice issued Monday.
“They told us they wanted to resod the area, and we have many volunteers who would be glad to help with that,” Garcia said. “But then we get the paperwork that says the reason is declining safety and health.”
The county’s official statement regarding the matter cited “unsanitary site conditions and unsafe activities, which have resulted in a number of arrests” as the reason for the notice.
“The safety of those at the site as well as the safety of county employees and residents and visitors to the Stephen P. Clark Center is our top priority.”