Florida Police Tear Gas and Arrest Campus Protesters-‘Not a Daycare’

Florida authorities this week are showing zero tolerance toward pro-Hamas protesters who disrupt classes and threaten campuses. Since the weekend, nearly two dozen activists have been arrested at Florida universities following clashes with police, including one instance of tear gas being deployed. Law enforcement officials say they have stepped up their response due to recent violent threats made by protesters.

On Tuesday, the University of Southern Florida announced that ten people had been arrested on campus following a confrontation with campus police. A spokesman for USF said officers were forced to intervene after protesters indicated on social media that they were planning to use items they had brought as weapons to resist university staff.

“As the day progressed, police observed participants in person and through social media expressing their intent to use some of the items they brought on campus as weapons and to resist university staff members and law enforcement officers,” the statement read. “As a result, USF police determined that the protest was no longer peaceful, and participants must leave the area,”

Protesters were reportedly given 25 minutes to clear the scene before police employed tear gas to disperse the crowd. A statement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office later confirmed the arrests, adding that “violent or unsanctioned protests … will not be tolerated.”

“The moment a peaceful protestor arms his or herself with a shield or attempts to occupy a space that isn’t theirs, as occurred today, they will be dispersed. And if they choose not to follow instructions of law enforcement officers, they will be arrested as 10 individuals were.”

It is currently unclear how many of the arrested protesters are students.

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On Monday, similar events unfolded on the University of Florida’s campus. According to the university, nine people were arrested by campus security and the Florida Highway Patrol. The individuals face charges ranging from failure to obey a lawful command, resisting without violence to trespass after warning, and at least one instance of battery after spitting at an officer.

A spokesman for UF later condemned the activists’ disruptions to campus, explaining that the protesters had been given plenty of warning the week prior.

“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,” the statement said.

“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 statement said. “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… Today, individuals who refused to comply were arrested after UPD gave multiple warnings and multiple opportunities to comply.”

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The arrests also follow warnings from Governor Ron DeSantis last week, who indicated zero tolerance for Hamas protesters who disrupt classes, intimidate students, or threaten violence. Referencing the ongoing demonstrations at Columbia and Yale University, the Governor warned students on Thursday, “If you try that at a Florida university, you are going to be expelled.”

Other stories you may want to read:

Star Parker: No, Demonstrations Today Not Like the 1960s

Snake Release Looks to Restore Florida’s Ecosystem

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