Ocala, Florida — An Ocala man, who refused to remove his Guy Fawkes mask while on Starbucks property, was arrested on Wednesday.
Officer Tuck was patrolling the Downtown Square area when he saw what appeared to be a man, later identified as Christian Mimms, 24, sitting on a park bench wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, or also known as an ‘Anonymous’ mask. The mask was worn in the movie “V for Vendetta.”
According to reports, due to recent burglaries, robberies, and other violent crimes in the area, Officer Tuck became suspicious.
When Officer Tuck approached the area, he was met by a man who stated the man in the mask had been acting suspicious. The officer then stated, “That is why I am here.”
Officer Tuck approached Mimms and told him it was unusual for a man to be sitting on a bench at the Downtown Square wearing a mask.
Officer Tuck asked if he had any identification and Mimms said “No.” He also refused to provide his name or remove his mask while speaking with the officer.
According to reports, the officer asked Mimms why he was wearing the mask, to which he replied, “Because it’s inspirational, and I don’t like the government.”
Mimms then stated he wanted to be left alone. Officer Tuck advised Mimms he was not detained and was free to leave, but he would be making a report on the incident.
One of Mimms’ friends stated to the officer, “It’s not a Guy Fawkes mask, but a “V for Vendetta” mask.”
A short time later, Officer Tuck saw Mimms enter the Starbucks while wearing the mask, but by the time the officer entered the business, Mimms had the mask on top of his head.
When Mimms saw the officer look at him, he pulled the mask over his face. Officer Tuck asked the manager if she allowed customers to wear masks in the store, and she stated, “No.” The manager of Starbucks told the officer that Mimms could stay as long as he didn’t cause trouble and removed the mask. He then refused to remove his mask.
Mimms then looked at the manager, mumbled something, and walked out of the business.
The manager then requested Mimms be trespassed.
Once Officer Tuck approached Mimms outside, he became upset and started shouting that the officer was making him remove his mask and a small crowd began to gather.
Mimms was asked for his identification and to remove the mask several times. He was told he would be arrested for obstruction if he did not comply. The officer explained that he needed his identification to complete the trespass. He eventually removed his mask and provided identification.
Mimms began to curse at the officer in a very loud tone and continued to yell that he was being arrested for wearing a mask, which incited the crowd. Mimms also yelled to his friends and requested they video his arrest.
Just as the crowd began to turn on the officer, Mimms was escorted to Officer Tuck’s patrol car and placed in the backseat.
It was later determined that the individuals in the crowd were personally known to Mimms. The Starbucks manager also asked police to remove his friends if they were going to continue to cause trouble.
Mimms was transported to the Marion County Jail and charged with Wearing a Hood or Mask on Property of Another, FSS 876.14-876.155(4).
FSS 876.14 – Knowingly and Unlawfully commit the offense of Wearing a Mask, Hood, or other Device on Property of Another, where “No person or persons over the age 16 years of age shall, while wearing a mask, hood, or device whereby any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, demand entrance or admission or enter or come upon or into the premises, enclosure, or house of any other person in any municipality or county of this state. Applicability of the charge being 876.155(4), “While he or she has engaged in conduct that could reasonably lead to the institution of a civil or criminal proceeding against him or her, with the intent of avoiding identification in such a proceeding.”
876.16; exemptions.—The following persons are exempted from the provisions of FSS. 876.11-876.15:
(1) Any person or persons wearing traditional holiday costumes;
(2) Any person or persons engaged in trades and employment where a mask is worn for the purpose of ensuring the physical safety of the wearer, or because of the nature of the occupation, trade, or profession;
(3) Any person or persons using masks in theatrical productions, including use in Gasparilla celebrations and masquerade balls;
(4) Persons wearing gas masks prescribed in emergency management drills and exercises.
Mimms has previous arrests for Unlawful Body Piercing (Operating a piercing business without a license), Larceny, Aggravated Battery with Deadly Weapon while Committing a Felony, Battery (x2), Violation of Probation, and Resisting Arrest.
He is scheduled for release on November 7, 2014.
For those that don’t know, Guy Fawkes is the infamous insurgent who tried to blow up the British Parliament in 1605.
The iconic version of the Guy Fawkes mask owes its popularity to the graphic novel and film “V for Vendetta,” which centers on a vigilante’s efforts to destroy an authoritarian government in a dystopian future United Kingdom. Although he didn’t predict the mask’s role in popular protest, David Lloyd, the artist who illustrated the comic, said, “It’s a great symbol of protest for anyone who sees tyranny.”
Before “V for Vendetta” (which was published in serial form throughout the 1980s before being made into a 2006 film), Guy Fawkes costumes and effigies were only popular in the U.K. on Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day, a November 5 celebration that, by the 20th century, had been largely divorced from Fawkes’ violent plot.
Mimms’ arrest took place on Guy Fawkes Day, as well as the very day the group ‘Anonymous’ called for a Million Mask March.
Although there is a statute (FSS 876.11 – 876.155(4)) that clearly states a person cannot cover their face in a place of business, we want to hear from you. What do you think about his arrest arrest?
[Last updated on November 7, 2014, at 9:45 a.m. to include the full statute and the history behind Guy Fawkes.]