Orlando police, FHP ID pro-Palestine protestors arrested over the weekend

The names of the two people arrested at a pro-Palestine rally in downtown Orlando were released Monday, as organizers criticized the police’s handling of what was otherwise a peaceful demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Kelvin Santos Mulero, 22, and Frankie Pagan, 19, were arrested Saturday on charges of battery on law enforcement, after Orlando police officers shoved through a crowd of demonstrators to reach a woman speaking over a megaphone.

The arrests came at the end of a march throughout Lake Eola Park, where 1,200 people gathered waving Palestinian flags amid Israel’s continued assault on Gaza following a deadly attack by Hamas on Oct. 7.

While court records detailing their arrests were not immediately available, Santos Mulero and Pagan were blocking officers from reaching the megaphone just before they were knocked over and arrested. Seconds later, police used pepper spray on the surrounding crowd, dispersing them. Santos Mulero and Pagan were then hustled to police vehicles as the crowd chanted, “Let them go.”

No injuries were officially reported, but volunteers tended to those affected by the pepper spray, including journalists covering the event.

“The Orlando Police Department is committed to keeping everyone safe who chooses to peacefully assemble in the City of Orlando, while also maintaining the safety of residents and businesses,” an OPD spokesperson said in a statement shortly after the arrests. Santos Mulero and Pagan have since been released from the Orange County Jail.

Florida Palestine Network, which organized the rally, slammed OPD’s response. At the beginning of the march, police had demanded the marchers not use the megaphone, a confrontation that was initially quelled by the group’s marshals tasked with engaging with law enforcement. It’s not clear whether the marchers had the required permit to use a megaphone; a public records request submitted Monday has not yet been fulfilled.

In a statement calling the arrests and the use of pepper spray “an act of barbarism,” Florida Palestine Network said it stands “in full support of these brave comrades, as their futures are now on the line.”

Three other arrests came on Saturday, as demonstrators of a separate pro-Palestine protest used cars to block Interstate 4 near Disney Springs. The protestors, who were with Central Florida Queers for Palestine, carried signs saying “Free Palestine” and “Look up Nakba 1948,” referring to what’s known in Arabic as “the catastrophe,” a period 76 years ago of violent displacement of Palestinians in the early formation of Israel.

Florida Highway Patrol identified the protestors as Isabella Giannosa, 26; Jenni Nguyen, 24; and My Truong, 24. All three face a misdemeanor charge of refusing to obey a police order. All have since been released on bond from jail.