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Judge bars activist from meetings

Hillsborough County Judge Ron Ficarrotta threw down the gauntlet Friday to self-styled citizen activist Tony Daniel.

To no one's surprise, the outspoken Daniel picked it right up and threw it back.

"The struggle continues," said Daniel, referring to his day in "kangaroo court."

Daniel, 37, had just been sentenced by Ficarrotta on three charges of disrupting a public assembly and one of resisting arrest without violence. Daniel was arrested three times in three months this year for disrupting Tampa City Council meetings and refusing to be handcuffed during one arrest.

Ficarrotta withheld adjudication on the charges, but did sock Daniel with four concurrent probation terms.

One condition of the probation is that Daniel not attend City Council meetings unless he is "a named legal party to action on the agenda."

"He (Ficarrotta) can't prevent me from going anywhere in this city," said the man who referred to Mayor Sandy Freedman as a "Jew dog" and council member Perry Harvey Jr. as an "Uncle Tom n-----" while addressing the council.

He said he would attend next Thursday's council meeting regardless of Ficarrotta's stipulation. "I do not intend to let my rights be violated," he said.

Daniel was last arrested June 23 when the agenda called for a discussion of the sale of alcohol at a Howard Avenue restaurant.

He said Friday that the June arrest, like his others at City Hall, was an "arbitrary, selective enforcement of the law."

Daniel said one minute he was speaking to the council about the sale of alcohol in black neighborhoods, and in the next, he was arrested.

According to Daniel, council Chairman Joe Greco told him he had strayed from the topic, declared him out of order and demanded he leave the speaker's podium.

Daniel refused and was arrested.

He maintains he was addressing the alcohol-related agenda item and had not gone afield, and that even if he had, Greco could have ruled him out of order and insist he keep to the point rather than commanding him to leave the podium.

Daniel estimated he has attended more than 120 City Council meetings in the past three years and has taken the floor between 400 and 500 times.

City Council member Eddie Caballero was called as a witness during the brief trial and asked by Assistant State Attorney Terryn Cohen to describe how Daniel conducts himself at the meetings.

"Let me give you an example . . . ," offered Caballero, who said it would be comparable to his being asked what he was just asked by Cohen "and I start talking about Bosnia-Herzegovina."