ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - Police arrested 19 anti-Wall Street protesters in Orlando before dawn on Saturday on trespass charges for sitting in a city park after hours despite warnings to leave, police said.
Orlando Police Lieutenant Timothy Crews said police warned members of the Occupy Orlando group several times they would be arrested if they refused to leave the park when it closed. But protesters chose to remain in violation of the posted hours.
“They decided to make a stand on that issue,” Crews said.
Crews and Shayan Elahi, a volunteer lawyer for the group, said the protesters remained calm and peaceful.
Those arrested face a first-degree misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Participants of Occupy Orlando, the local offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York last month to protest against economic inequality, have maintained a vigil in downtown Orlando since last Saturday.
Elahi said an average of 50 protesters normally walk on the sidewalk in shifts overnight, which is permitted.
Reporting by Barbara Liston; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Johnston