By Henry Taksier
Ellas Anthony McDaniel, 56, son of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Bo Diddley, was arrested Thursday night for civil disobedience on behalf of “Occupy Gainesville.”
Two days have passed since protesters set up camp at Bo Diddley Plaza, symbolically supporting the occupation of New York City’s financial sector. Organizers obtained a permit from City Manager Russ Blackburn to camp out Wednesday night, so long as the occupation would end the following day.
Last night, the occupiers decided their right to peacefully assemble overrides local ordinances. A small crowd of dedicated protesters lined the sidewalk surrounding Bo Diddley Plaza, and McDaniel decided to join them.
“We’re making history at a place that honors my father,” he said. “Big business and government should not mix. This is a movement for morality and freedom.”
To show his support, McDaniel stood on top of a stone block with an imprint of the words “Freedom of Speech” and “Freedom of Assembly.” A Gainesville Police Department (GPD) officer handcuffed McDaniel at approximately 11:45 p.m., wrote him a citation to appear in court on Nov. 17, released him, and threatened to put him in jail if he tried to set foot on the plaza again that night.
“My father is rolling in his grave right now,” McDaniel said. “They have no clue what they did when they put those handcuffs on me.”
Three other protesters were detained and cited that night, including Pat Fitzpatrick, a longtime advocate for Gainesville’s homeless population, and Ian Brandon Smith, 43, a state care provider.
In other news, TIME released a poll on Oct. 10, showing that 54 percent of Americans view the “Occupy” movement favorably while 23 percent view it unfavorably. Comparatively, only 27 percent of Americans view the Tea Party favorably, while 33 percent view it unfavorably.
Update (10/14): The crowd last night included about 50 protesters, according to coverage from The Alligator. McDaniel owns property in Hawthorne and Archer, and he promised to bail out each and every protester that gets arrested during “Occupy Gainesville.” The story has already been picked up by The Daily Kos.
Update (10/14): Photo added. Ellas Anthony McDaniel attends an “Occupy Gainesville” general assembly on Oct. 14, the day after his arrest. The story at this point has received international attention, picked up by The Guardian and mentioned on The Countdown by Keith Olbermann.
Update (10/23): Duane Schwingel, a neatly dressed copywriter and father of two, identifies as a pro-life Christian conservative. He also writes defiant songs about the struggle to “tear down Wall Street” and restore democracy. If not for Schwingel, this entire story may never have happened.