12 FSU Students Against Sweatshops arrested
April 2002

On March 25, twelve members of Florida State University Students Against Sweatshops were arrested in front of the Westcott Building on FSU's Tallahassee campus.

They were attempting to set up a tent city in protest of FSU President D'Alemberte's rejection of FSU's joining the Workers Rights Consortium, an organization that monitors working conditions in factories that produce apparel that bears university logos. There is a lot of support for FSU joining the Workers Rights Consortium, including support from the Faculty Senate, the Student Senate and the director of the Human Rights Center at FSU.

The students did not go to Westcott with the intent or the expectation of being arrested. The arrests arose in a chaotic situation, which followed conflicting messages from the university administration and the police department. As a result, the twelve students who chose to be arrested because they felt they would otherwise be betraying their principles. They now face significant financial burdens from bail bond fees and potential fines.

Before the students began to set up their tent city on Westcott Plaza, they had been told by mid-level representatives of the FSU Police Force that this would be a legal action. When they arrived that night, FSU Police representatives on the scene accepted their presence. The students were told to stay off the flowers and not to play in the fountain, and that the police would stop by intermittently to be sure that everything was okay. Soon afterwards, FSU Police Chief Drayton, who was on vacation, showed up. After communicating with university officials by cellphone, he informed the students that they were not in a Free Speech Zone and that they would have to move to a Free Speech Zone or face arrest. The students chose to be arrested.

The Students Against Sweatshops have now set up a tent city in a Free Speech Zone on Landis Green, and they have vowed to remain there in order to educate the entire FSU community about this issue until FSU joins the WRC.

The twelve students who were arrested face charges of trespassing, a first degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

For more information on this campaign, see their website at www.westcott12.org

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