State Troopers, UFPD, and GPD Arrest Nine People Protesting for Peace in Palestine

State Troopers, UFPD, and GPD Arrest Nine People Protesting for Peace in Palestine
Three out of the nine Palestine supporting protesters who were arrested.

Updated May 2 | The protester‘s demands have been updated.

A peaceful protest demanding that the University of Florida disclose its divestment portfolio and sanction Israeli-backed initiatives is continuing into its second week. Nine of the protesters were arrested yesterday. 

On Monday, it was reported that UFPD had shown up to the protest the previous night and removed all the chairs due to them being constituted as “abandoned property.” 

As an act of defiance, a protester would sit in a chair. He would first go across the street and set his chair up a couple of yards from where the police were having a discussion. 

Shortly after, Assistant UFPD Director Major K. Sasser asked him to leave, handing him orders that had been handed to the students on previous nights. The orders list chairs under prohibited items. 

The chair sitter decided to move but remained in his chair at the back end of the protesting area. He was joined by two other protesters, who also sat in chairs. The three decided to play a game of Uno.

Three protesters sitting in chairs and playing Uno in the Plaza of the Americas shortly before being arrested

Numerous other protesters linked arms around the trio. Shortly after, state troopers arrived on the scene. 

The group that was willing to risk arrest made it clear that they were well-aware that chairs were prohibited items, and that was the point. They wanted to show that UFPD was willing to arrest peaceful Palestine supporting protesters that aren't physically affecting anyone around them.

The man who led the charge of chair sitting was the first to be arrested out of nine; with the two other protesters he was playing Uno with following shortly after.

Based on statements from an officer, the three playing Uno appeared to be arrested on trespassing charges. 

0:00
/1:26

Soon after, more arrests came in, rising to a total of nine. The circumstances under which the other six people were arrested have not been confirmed.

Retired Gainesville Police Department (GPD) captain and Deputy Chief of UFPD Bart Knowles did not answer the question upon being asked what a detainee's charges were, saying his goal was crowd control. 

0:00
/2:00

Several officers from UFPD and GPD lined up at the police station while state troopers took the defendants inside. 

The majority of officers from UFPD and GPD who were requested for their name and badge number did give it out, with some needing to be asked multiple times.

UFPD generally did give it out more willingly than GPD, with one GPD officer refusing to state his name outright. 

0:00
/3:56

At the first appearance order for the defendants this morning, the public information officer announced that attendees could not attend the hearing on Zoom and a limited number of people could attend the hearing physically. 

The identities of the protesters have not been independently verified; however, all but one are to be released on recognizance, with the remaining protester being granted a bond of $5,000.

It was notified by a community organizer that the defendants’ bail would be posted. Specific charges and cases for each defendant have not yet been verified.  

Photos from in front of the court house Tuesday morning

The University of Florida spokesman, Steve Orlando, has released a statement regarding the arrests. 

“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. 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. And we also told them that clearly prohibited activities would result in a trespassing order from UPD (barring them from all university properties for three years) and an interim suspension from the university. For days, UPD patiently and consistently reiterated the rules. Today, individuals who refused to comply were arrested after UPD gave multiple warnings and multiple opportunities to comply.”

Throughout the protest, many of the activists disputed the allegations in Orlando’s statement that the rules had been clear. 

One protester told an officer that he attempted to contact the the head of UF Division of Student Life, Dr. Heather White, about questions regarding the protest rules. He said upon calling he was answered by "the assistant of her assistant ," and unable to get the answers from someone with the proper authority.

Others stated that UFPD officers did not consistently define what camping meant, with one officer reportedly saying that he was “being nice” because he could consider food and water consumption as “camping,” but was holding back on doing so.

Following the officers’ dispersal, protesters heard from Dr. Bashar Alzghoul, who recently returned after volunteering for two weeks at the European Hospital in Gaza. 

"I want you to imagine 50,000 people living in a camp. The name of that camp is Daga camp. Next to that camp was a graveyard. That graveyard started two months ago and now its full. The tents were right next to the graveyard... Electricity is just in the hospital or around the hospital grounds... While people are sleeping, there are parents with their children, a woman breastfeeding, a child who is three years old sleeping after being displaced nine times from the North."

0:00
/6:03

Before Dr. Alzghoul left the protest area he told protesters they were having an impact on Palestinian children.

"With the little internet they have inside of the hospital, they were sharing news of these same protests from all over the world. They were sharing the pictures to encourage themselves to stay. A lot of them say 'They're trying to kick us out, our grandparents were kicked out of their land; we either live here or die here.' Thats what they'd say."

Dr. Alzghoul recently spoke at the Downtown Library about his volunteer trip to Gaza. He went into greater detail on what he witnessed during a presentation on Saturday with his team members and colleagues, Dr. Waleed Sayedahamd, and Registered Nurse (RN) Rana Mahmoud. 

Dr. Alzghoul, RN Mahmoud, and Dr. Sayedahamd all gave verbal testimonies, corroborated by video and photographic evidence, to prove what is happening in Gaza. A report on their accounts will be released in the coming week. 

The following are the full demands from the UF Divestment Coalition:


1. Disclosure: The university's investment portfolio from 2014-2024 and beyond must be made transparent and accessible to the public
2. Student Oversight: Establish a student oversight committee for future investments, ensuring student input and approval.

3. Termination of Partnerships Complicit in Human Rights Violations: UF must sever ties with weapons, arms, and AI contractors which are directly implicated in human rights violations, including the Gaza genocide. Specifically, UF must:
- Cut ties between UF Innovate and RTX (formerly known as Raytheon Company)
- Cut ties with Chris Malachowaky and Nvidia
- Refuse to allow RTX, Lockheed Martin, or other weapons manufacturers into UF career fairs
- Discontinue RTX's involvement in the Integrated Product & Process Design course offered at UF
- Refuse to take part in Lockheed Martin's "Ethics in Engineering" competition
- End the partnership between UF's Women Engineers Rise Mentorship program with Kratos Defense and L3Harris. 

4. Academic Boycott: UF must sever all institutional ties with Israeli universities complicit in apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and falsifying historical information. Specifically, UF must:
- Terminate the partnership with Israeli Hebrew University which is partially built upon occupied Palestinian territory, in contravention of international law

5. Divestment: UF must divest from funding and partnering with weapons manufacturers that are implicated in human rights violations in the Gaza genocide, including Lockheed Martin, RTX, Kratos Defense, and L3Harris.

6. Speaker Policy: Refrain from hosting speakers affiliated with the Israeli military or spreading misinformation about the history of Palestine (e.g., 1948 Nakba, right of return).

7. Drop All Charges: UF must drop all charges and disciplinary actions against Pro-Palestinian students.


Updated May 2 | The charges against the defendants are confirmed.

The legal classification that the defendants were booked under has not been stated in this article due to it being disclosed to Gainesville Public Information Services that a number of the arrestees were not booked under their real names or identities, some of whom are transgender or non-binary people.

The man who led the charge of chair sitting was hit with one count of trespassing.

Another was booked one count of trespassing and one count of resisting an officer without violence.

Four have been charged on one count each for failing to obey an officer, wearing a mask on private property, and resisting an officer without violence.

Two more were respectively charged with resisting an officer without violence and wearing a hood or mask on private property, both being hit with one charge of failing to obey a police officer.

All the protesters face misdemeanor charges except for one who is facing a felony battery charge for allegedly spitting on a police officer.

Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL