Why were four young people arrested at FIU after the George Floyd protests?

Kiyra Ellis wants to make it clear that this past weekend’s protest at Florida International University was peaceful. The event’s organizer, who is a recent FIU graduate, states: “The protest was peaceful and the level of aggression they showed was completely unnecessary. There was no need for them to arrest people exercising their rights,”

This past Saturday, hundreds of people demonstrated on the FIU campus to protest the killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man. Police were present, but the event was indeed essentially without conflict.

Then, according to police reports, at about 6:23 p.m. on Saturday, members of the Miami-Dade police received a 911 call from a woman inside a white vehicle at SW 16th Street and 107th Avenue. The woman seemed to be in distress and claimed to be surrounded and under assault by a large crowd.

Detective Brandon Ashe of the MDPD observed the crowd surrounding the woman’s car. At that time, police reports indicate the department’s Rapid Deployment Force was deployed and successfully dispersed the crowd.

Another group of cops called the Mobile Field Force responded to the area of SW 8th Street and 107th Ave at around 7:11 p.m. in reference to another crowd assembling. They decided, though it is unclear exactly how, that the same crowd that had dispersed had regrouped and was obstructing traffic.

Videos posted on Twitter show protestors were already on the sidewalk when MDPD began to announce that they might be arrested and charged with unlawful assembly if they did not disperse. Policemen were seen wearing riot gear as protestors ask “How is this unlawful?”

About half an hour later, the officers ordered the crowd to disperse within 5 minutes. Some left and a few stragglers remained. Seven minutes later, the cops arrested and handcuffed four people, loaded them into police cars, and drove them to Miami-Dade Police Department Headquarters.  

One of the four people detained was a 17-year-old male who was taken to the MDPD headquarters and then transferred to the Juvenile Assistance Center. The others were taken to headquarters, then jail, according to a police spokesman. They were identified as 23-year-old Isabel De La Huerta, 19-year-old Amadou Pouye, and 27-year-old Morgan Elizabeth Ovil. 

The four were charged with unlawful assembly. Pouye was also charged with resisting without violence after police say he attempted to pull away from the officer arresting him.

Judges set bond at $500 for both Ovil and De La Huerta. Pouye’s bond was set at $1,000. Ellis, the protest organizer, confirmed that she and the others who arranged the event were able to post the bail for the protestors and that they are no longer in police custody.

SFMN was unable to reach the protesters. De La Huerta first agreed to an interview, then changed her mind. Ovil, who is a class of 2015 Florid State University graduate, was unreachable. Pouye is a member of the Miami-Dade College class of 2024.

“I understand that the police may not have liked every aspect of it but a protest is not supposed to make people happy,” said Ellis. “It is supposed to make people feel heard.”

Helen Acevedo is an FIU student majoring in broadcast media with a minor in political science and international relations. She is passionate about giving people a platform to tell their truths.