Friday, June 04, 2004

Miami police crackdown on peaceful protesters during FTAA reprimanded

Good news out of Miami. A civilian panel overseeing the actions of Miami police during the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement neogitations in Miami last year came out with a draft report that reads, in part:

''The members of the Independent Review Panel strenuously condemn and deplore the unrestrained and disproportionate use of force,'' reads the panel's draft executive summary, released last week.

``Most importantly, we extend our heartfelt apologies to the visitors who came to our city to peaceably voice their concerns, but who were met with closed fists instead of open arms.''


The Miami Herald article is here.

In too many civic gatherings, the police get freaked out by wild talk of anarchists coming to burn down the city and they take it out on citizens with rough arrests, beatings and pepper spray.

I was in L.A. during the Democratic National Convention in 2000, and the police totally overreacted there. In the middle of a Rage Against the Machine concert outside the Staples Center, while I was handing out instant runoff voting pamphlets to delegates going into the Center (through a massive chain-link fence, mind you), the police came in with a wall of horses, shields and pepper spray and forced everyone out of the way. Then they started shooting bean bags and rubber bullets. I saw an old lady get hit. I saw a young hippie girl get hit in the face. For no reason.

Reporters were scrambling. At one point, I felt compelled to raise my arms! As in: don't shoot me.

Especially with the increased merging of police and the military, we've got to keep our law enforcement sane and civil and not let a few bad apples (who are sometimes in charge) spoil the bunch.

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