Occupy Orlando will maintain its activities and events through February as it faces 39 pending trespass charges filed against its members.
The organization is also celebrating the not guilty verdict for Occupy Orlando’s Megan Vermeer, found not guilty of trespassing charges Friday.
Brook Hines of Occupy Orlando tells The Florida Independent that ”by and large, the group recognizes that the trial win was amazing, and they’re a little bit shocked to find that even when you have a win, the person can still have a lot of fines to deal with. A win doesn’t always mean you’re 100 percent free of any other obligations.”
The Orlando Sentinel reported that “a jury on Friday found the first Occupy Orlando supporter tried for trespassing not guilty of that charge, but it did find her guilty of a lesser city code violation,” adding that Vermeer “was found guilty of being in a downtown park after it was closed for the evening. She was fined $200, placed on six months’ probation and ordered to do 50 hours of community service and pay investigative costs.”
According to Hines, in the remaining 39 cases “some defendants are using a National Lawyers Guild strategy and they have a lead lawyer who is guiding that through public defenders. There is another group and they are working with Shayan Elahi, our legal team lead from the beginning.”
In a statement issued Saturday by Orlando Occupy, “defense attorney Shayan Elahi says the verdict of not guilty by Orlando residents proves that Occupy Orlando was not tresspassing at Senator Beth Johnson Park. ‘To procede with more trials after this not guilty verdict would waste the court’s time and tax payer dollars at a time when neither has the resources to spare.’”
Ashley Lopez of The Florida Independent reported in October about claims by The United West, a right-wing organization with links to U.S. House GOP candidate Adam Hasner, that Elahi, the affirmative action chair for the Orange County Democratic Party and a trained National Lawyer Guild member, and Orlando Occupy are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hines tells the Independent that Occpuy Orlando has a busy February plan: “We’re working on a kickoff on Black History Month with a march, and we’re also planning some demonstrations.”
She adds that Occupy Orlando has “a couple of trials coming up this week, and we will test the legal strategy there, and we’ll probably know more on [Wed., Feb. 8] about whether the prosecutor will go ahead with the charges.”