Restrictions on Protesters Pose Problems


Sam Schaffer

Protesters march at #UF.

Sam Schaffer and Rebecca Newman

Hundreds of demonstrators went hours in the Gainesville heat without water on Thursday, to show their disapproval of Richard Spencer and the values he was preaching in the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at University of Florida.

CNN reported that this was Spencer’s first visit to a college campus since he participated in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. where a woman was killed when protests turned violent.

In light of the way things went in Charlottesville, police, highway patrol, even Florida Fish and Wildlife Control were at UF in the hundreds, lining the streets at times to create a barrier.

Law enforcement did a good job for the most part as no major injuries occurred, but many demonstrators were hindered by some of the restrictions placed on protestors.

Police sealed off the corners of Hull Rd. outside the Phillips Center. In order for protestors to get in front of the Phillips Center they had to be searched and anything they had on the prohibited items list had to be left with the police.  Among the prohibited items were sporting items that could be used as weapons, bags, bikes and water.

Alachua County Commissioner, Mike Byerly, thought the prohibition of water was an unreasonable restriction for a peaceful protest. He was concerned about the major police presence increasing tension and “the difficulty that people have coming here and having basic things like water to drink in Florida, bathrooms, that kind of thing,” keeping people from coming out to voice their opinion.

Nearly 3,000 people said they were going to the Facebook event, No Nazis at UF, which was a protest scheduled from 1 p.m. to 9p.m. in front of the Phillips Center.

“You can’t bring water. I been out here for at least two hours already, you know I ain’t got no water. I’m sweating beads, but we standing out here,” said 24-year-old Gainesville resident, Lanier Phillips. He held a sign that rebuked racism.  “I feel like it’s a way to keep us from coming out here, to keep us from really standing up for what we believe in and what we fighting for.  I feel like they could have handled it in different ways, you can’t bring your own water [or] supplies, but have somewhere set up for supplies,” Phillips added.

Medics were needed near the ticket distribution area for a young woman that was laying on the ground after she overheated.  They brought her water and left.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.