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Miami's New Police State

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    This message was sent from: Police State -. ... Miami s New Police State Bill Fletcher Millions
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 4, 2003
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      This message was sent from: Police State -.

      Miami's New Police State Bill Fletcher

      Millions of us witnessed - or received a hint of - the Miami spectacle last
      week at the time of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) meetings and
      protests. Brought to us by the same people who oversaw electoral fraud in
      November 2000, this stunning and threatening presence of police was almost
      unbelievable, particularly in light of the fact that the protests were

      I flew into Fort Lauderdale and took a very expensive cab ride to Miami. The
      first thing that struck me was that, when I called my hotel for directions,
      the tone of the hotel staffperson's voice was full of panic. The hotel
      employee indicated that Biscayne Blvd. and other streets near the hotel had
      been closed by the police. So the cab driver dropped me off at an exit ramp
      on Route 95 and I had to walk three-fourths of a mile or so, bags in hand,
      to get to the hotel. I walked past innumerable police and police vehicles.
      These police officers looked like they had been plucked from a scene out of
      a science fiction movie. Armed and armored with helmets and visors, they
      were everywhere. I felt as though I were walking through a city where a
      military coup d'etat had just taken place.

      Streets were blocked off, stores were closed, helicopters were flying
      overhead, yet demonstrators found ways of converging on the legally
      permitted rally site. While the march that was held following the initial
      rally the afternoon of November 20th was peaceful and uneventful, a couple
      of hundred marchers returning to the rally site approached an artificial
      wall that had been set up by the police to restrict protestors from getting
      too close to the meeting site where the FTAA was being debated. It was at
      that point that that the police marched on these direct action protestors.

      I watched as rubber bullets and tear gas were fired at the unarmed
      protestors. The police converged on the protestors, almost like a scene from
      the classic film Potemkin, where Russian troops marched on demonstrators in
      1905. While this was taking place, the official news coverage was
      disparaging the protesters as hooligans, inflaming the environment.

      That was Thursday. On Friday, when nothing big and exciting was planned, I
      witnessed another dramatic show of force by Miami's finest. This time, the
      provocations by the police were evident for all to see. I witnessed young
      anti-FTAA activists being pulled over, who were simply walking down the
      streets or driving. In several cases these individuals were put up against
      walls, forced to sit down in front of the police and/or arrested outright.
      Stories continue to circulate about what happened or is alleged to have
      happened to those arrested.

      The anger that I hold due to this display of arrogant intimidation is
      difficult to communicate. A legal protest had been planned. It was planned
      by labor unions, community-based organizations, non-governmental
      organizations, and various other activists. It was planned to demonstrate
      opposition to a fundamentally undemocratic trade deal that was being forced
      down the throats of the people of the Western hemisphere by the Bush
      administration in its mad quest for better conditions for corporate
      profitability. Having been excluded from any meaningful participation in the
      lead up to the FTAA gathering, activists from the entire hemisphere
      converged on Miami to express their outrage and antipathy toward such an

      As it turned out, the Miami (and Florida) establishment went out of its way
      to promote an atmosphere of panic and dread within the larger population.
      For weeks prior to the FTAA meetings and protests, the press had been
      promoting anticipation of the worst, something akin to the fear that Romans
      must have felt as Attila the Hun and his hoards approached the gates of
      their fair city. Inferences of terrorist threats and mad anarchists were
      floated in order to color the view of the entire protest. Despite the fact
      that the labor unions under the leadership of the AFL-CIO, along with other
      protestors, planned around a peaceful expression of opinion, the news media
      turned the whole situation on its head into invasion Miami.

      I have seen a possible future for the U.S.A. and it is not a pretty picture.
      The lords of the White House, along with their various corporate and
      political allies have decided in no uncertain terms to play upon the
      post-9/11 fears among the people in order to restrict the ability of the
      people to express themselves. Moreover, they are carrying out a preemptive
      political strike against any and all opponents of their corporate-guided
      globalization. It was not simply a matter of the police presence, however.
      The pitiful national coverage of the Miami events, as well as the
      caricaturizing of the protestors by local and national media, presented the
      demonstrations as more of a circus than an example of growing opposition to
      President Bush and his determined march toward a world safe for profits for
      his corporate friends and allies.

      Miami was living proof that the USAPatriot Act and the growing repression
      that we have experienced since 9/11/2001 has very little to do with any war
      against terrorism. Rather, the entire scene is as if it were out of a film,
      scripted to the "t." Play upon fears, encourage passivity in the face of
      arrogance, distort the news, foment lies and half-truths, this becomes the
      screenplay for the 21st century entry of the police state into the U.S.A.

      Interestingly, it is not just and no longer Black folks who are the sole
      recipients of the baton and pepper spray in this brave new world. This go
      round all one has to do is to raise one's hand and say, "�excuse me, but I
      don't agree�" and, presto, one becomes an enemy of homeland security.


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