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Protest at FL Dept. of Corrections turns physical, woman arrested

Posted: 10:45 AM, Jan 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-17 14:49:19Z
Protest at FL Dept. of Corrections turns physical, woman arrested 2
Protest at FL Dept. of Corrections turns physical, woman arrested
Protest at FL Dept. of Corrections turns physical, woman arrested

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A big protest at the Florida Department of Corrections turned physical as police stepped in.

WTXL ABC 27's Stephen Jiwanmall spoke with protesters about what they wanted to accomplish.

For several hours Tuesday, more than 80 protesters were at the Florida Department of Corrections as part of a statewide demonstration. They say they want to see change in Florida's prison system.

Protesters from different organizations, including the Dream Defenders, were in the lobby of the Carlton Building with a megaphone and signs asking to meet with DOC Secretary Julie Jones.

Protesters say things got out of hand when Tallahassee Police came in and started pushing them out of the building.

"We were met with force after five hours of waiting in the lobby asking for her to come down... it was high-energy and passionate,"said Panagioti Tsolkas, the organizer of the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons. "There were people who have family members on the inside, people who have been on the inside themselves speaking out about their experiences, about what has happened to their family members and their communities."

Protesters say this demonstration is part of a movement that started nationwide on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They say prison workers are being treated as slaves and they also want Florida to reinstate parole.

"Operation PUSH is an initiative by prisoners statewide who said they plan to go on strike by laying down and refusing work assignments all across the state," said Tsolkas. 

A Gainesville activist was arrested. Police say 19-year-old Mariam Mohamed was arrested for breaking glass. 

She has been charged with property damage/criminal mischief $1000 or more, resisting an officer, and trespassing. Mohamed has since bonded out of jail. 

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Corrections issued a statement saying no state prisons had interruptions to daily operations and there were no reports of inmates stopping work.

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