Skip to comments.FTAA Miami - Bienvenidos a Miami, Scum...
Posted on 11/22/2003 9:11:40 PM PST by Sledge
Bienvenido a Miami, Scum...
I Went to a Protest and a Police State Broke Out.
I heard about the FTAA Ministerial conference scheduled in Miami a couple of weeks ago and decided that it would be a great excuse for a day off from work. I researched the demonstrations on the IndyMedia site and determined that Thursday was going to be the big day. I filled out the appropriate forms, got the approval of my boss, and picked up a partner in a budding Che Guevara co worker.
Wednesday night I charged all my batteries, cleared all the Compact Flash cards and got my "I am a photographer, not an anarchist!" outfit ready to go. I went to bed early, because the demonstrators were planning on kicking off the festivities at 7:00am with a march to the fence, and I needed to get an early start.
I was up and out of the house at O-dark-thirty the next morning, picked up my co-worker on the way, and we were headed south on I-95 at 6:15am. No problem, I thought.
I had thoroughly researched the downtown access on the web and had decided to park at the Omni and ride the Metro Mover system into downtown. The Omni is only a few blocks north of I-395, and 15 blocks north of the demonstration site.
We exited I-95 on I-395 and immediately ran into a road block of Riot Cops. Whenever I tried to turn toward the Omni I ran into another roving roadblock that would send me in a direction that I did not want to go. After a pleasant, however unexpected, tour of Overtown I finally slipped past the roadblocks and made it to the Omni. Finding that the parking garage was closed, I found a spot to park on a side street, Girding myself with my well broken in Danner boot, photo vest, backpack and camera, we were off to the Metro Mover station.
Wrong again. In spite of published information, the entire Metro Mover system had been shut down. The city was running shuttle buses, so we hopped on a bus loaded with protesters and we were off. After 20 minutes of meandering around downtown, the bus dropped us well to the west of where we wanted to be. My sleep deprived brain was beginning to think that someone would be happy if we just went home, and they were trying their best to put the though in my mind by making it as difficult as possible to get to the demonstration site. Not to be deterred, we followed the lines of demonstrators and eventually ran into the morning march to the fence:
We fall in at the end of the march and begin moving toward downtown and the fence. Very shortly we begin to see more of the police arrayed to counter the protesters:
The Riot Cops were blocking all of the streets along the route of march, and even had platoons of riot cops as a reaction force:
Arrayed to do battle:
Continuing to follow the march, we run into the cordon around the meeting site. I guess we can't go that way.
After turning left whether we wanted to or not, the march was stopped short of Biscayne Blvd by another line of riot cops:
Police keep the steel shutter safe from the protesters:
While walking around snapping pictures, I discovered that the way was clear one block over, so I was able to make my way to the fence. Here is the gate to the conference:
Police shot gunner on over watch on a high lift:
Air Power - Helicopter over watch
Throughout the day the police had five helicopters airborne. One hovered overhead, while four helicopters patrolled downtown at a low altitude.
Florida Fish and Wildlife helicopter.
Another Fish and Wildlife helicopter:
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue lends a hand.
And through it all, Sky 10 was on the job:
The protesters eventually figured out how to get around the police line and made there way onto Biscayne Blvd. The Police reformed into a line in front of the fence as the protesters filed in. I had yet to observe any violent or confrontational activity from any of the protesters.
The Police however, had adopted a totally confrontational attitude. You could see it in their eyes through the lenses of their gas masks. You could see it in the way that the shot gunners and grenadiers held their weapons ready. You could see it in the way the police maneuvered their units to create confrontations where none existed. The police were not just ready for trouble, they wanted trouble.
Che and I sat down for a rest and sausage biscuit, and during the interlude we heard several loud bangs echo off the buildings. Apparently the Black Bloc had precipitated a conflict with the police line. What we had heard was a concussion grenade and several tear gas grenades. Reports in IndyMedia on Friday indicate that a reporter had observed (and video taped) that the scuffle was started by a pair of Police infiltrators who hugged each other, put their side arms back on, and drove off in a police van after the incident, no doubt for some coffee and doughnuts.
Somebody must have brought some paint balloons. Splooged cops #1 and #2:
Splooged cop #3:
A legal observer "confronts" the police with an assault notebook.
The Police eventually declared an "Illegal Assembly", and ordered the crowd to disperse. With all exits from the protest site blocked by lines of Riot Cops, there was no place to disperse to, so the police robo-marched the crowd down the street.
I came to the protest expecting to find throngs of purple haired, nose ringed and tattooed radical revolutionaries. What I found was a bunch of kids that could be my children, old people, Union people, and an incredible amount of media. There were legal observers, and even field medical personnel. It was not at all what I expected.
Communists? (What's with the American flags? Commies don't wave Old Glory!)
Those kids don't know what's going on...
And last but not least... Code Pink was in the house:
The AFL-CIO had set up a program in the Amphitheater and a march through the city. They were rather late to show up, which the media blamed on the demonstrators, but which I knew from personal experience was due to the police road blocks surrounding downtown.
The Steelworkers Union members march to the Amphitheater.
Radical Marxist Union member. Die you capitalist scum... You will be subjugated to the will of the Proletariat masses.
Union Musicians take the stage:
While the Unionists file in:
And show their feelings:
And the band rocked on...
After a series of speakers from the Unions and other protest groups,
The crowd filed out between the lines of Riot Cops to the assembly area for the afternoon March.
The crowd gathered on Biscayne Blvd for the afternoon march.
The police were prepared with tear gas:
And Riot Cops:
The March kicked off and started moving through downtown Miami:
And Big Brother was watching.
Sorry. I couldn't resist.
Police lined the route of march on horseback:
Not all of the Police we hostile to the protesters. Maybe it was the Christmas money from Overtime that lightened the mood.
Nope, can't go that way...
The march heads back to Biscayne Blvd.
Can't go that way either...
The Haitian contingent marches on.
No parking here, scum.
The march reaches Biscayne Blvd.
And flows into the marshalling area, followed by the Police.
Lines of Storm Troopers face off against the protesters across the no mans land of the Amphitheater parking lot. The Perfumed Princes are safe.
I went to the protest expecting to be threatened by a bunch of Marxists and anarchists who were attempting to tear down our Government. What I found was a bunch of young people, Unionists, and Senior Citizens who just wanted to be heard in their displeasure with the FTAA. While I cannot usually find common cause with the vast majority of the protesters, I was in complete agreement with them in opposition to the FTAA.
I disagree with the FTAA in the same way I disagree with any Trans-National organization that attempts to usurp the sovereignty of our country. FTAA, NAFTA, WTO, or UN, it doesn't matter. Our sovereignty is being threatened and diminished daily by a growing list of these organizations, aided and abetted by our Government officials who seem all too eager to give out country's freedom away.
To the protesters I would suggest that politics be left out of events like this one. All day I was assailed by chants of "Bush's FTAA". The growing trend toward globalization and the subjugation of the our country to these Trans-National organizations is not a manifestation of the desires of any particular political party, and Party Politics should not intrude when we are discussing these matters. Whether Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Green, all Americans lose when these organizations win. The Union speeches were little more than Democratic campaign speeches, and the chants in the streets blamed it all on G.W. and Jeb Bush. We need to put aside party politics in these matters and together we can defeat globalization.
"Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day, but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, unalterable through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematical plan of reducing us to slavery."
To the Police, or more correctly those in charge of the security arrangements, I must say shame on you. The level of force and intimidation present at the protest were altogether uncalled for. The irrationally confrontational attitude and provocative maneuvering that I witnessed caused more trouble than it prevented. Reports that have come out about line of Riot Cops driving the protesters around downtown, clubbing and arresting those who did not move fast enough, One incident culminating in the pepper spraying of the doctors, nurses, patients and facilities of the Protester's medical clinic. There was a report that an 80 year old Union woman was thrown to the ground and cuffed with a knee to the neck and a gun to the head. A follow up protest at the jail was ordered to disperse. After the crowd started dispersing, the police moved in with riot sticks flying, arresting those who did not disperse fast enough.
I guess the First Amendment was repealed somewhere along the line. Have we fallen so far that we can no longer determine our own path in the World? Have we slipped so far down the slippery slope to Tyranny that must mobilize Armies of Storm Troopers to suppress the dissenting voice of the people?
"And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the right of resistance? Let them take arms...The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
The Miami cops did a damn good job -- try picking another venue if you are sincere about opposing globalization -- or anything else -- peacefully. No one who believes in private property rights and/or the rule of law has any sympathy for trade meeting demonstrators, based solely on the record.
Ah. Ok. Still not over that election loss in 2000, I see.
it's called class war. your government is waging it in your name with your money -- you really should educate yourself about it.
Uh-huh. Ok. I'll go do that. Then, I can be just like you - bitter, unhappy, hating myself, my country, my president, my fellow citizens, and everything else. Cool.
My praise goes out to Miami and the police who kept the peace this past week. If the word got out how much business was lost due to the presence of these protesters and the threat which was known throughout the city in advance, there would have been nothing that would have protected the protesters from the citizens of Miami and all those police would have been "their best friends".
BTW our Cubans did not help to restore Miami only to have it trashed by well funded Socialists, Communists and Anarchists. If they show up in this town, they'd better behave themselves. Despite what liberals would have us believe, the Latino community in South Florida is exceptionally hard working and takes a great deal of pride in the results of their work. Miami is a jewel of their efforts. The enemy needs to tread lightly in this neck of the woods...
Hate to sound so bitter, but THIS IS OUR HOME and we don't "take" to people disrespecting it.
I live in Miami, and I can tell you that in some cases, no. A number of them are full-time anti-FTAA activists.
Hate to sound so bitter, but THIS IS OUR HOME and we don't "take" to people disrespecting it.
I love Miami, and these people have a right to peaceful protest, but it's ridiculous that we have to shut the bloody city down to ensure that order remains. What does that say about the protestors?