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Activists Tell of Police Brutality at Miami Protest

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  • Dan Clore
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo Ithaca Times Activists tell tales of police brutality at Miami protest by Olivia Nellums
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 27, 2003
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      News for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      Ithaca Times
      Activists tell tales of police brutality at Miami protest
      by Olivia Nellums
      December 17, 2003

      Local activists met last Wednesday to discuss events at a
      recent Miami protest against international trade policies.
      They also presented information and arguments related to
      their cause to an audience of about 50 people.

      Each individual who protested on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20 against
      a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) meeting held in
      Miami expressed surprise at the extent of police force.
      "We were living under martial law," said Ithacan and Cornell
      senior Aubryn Sidle, who was wounded by a lead-filled
      beanbag. Participants said that schools and most businesses
      were closed in the area of protesting, and that riot squads,
      seven helicopters, and even one tank were present at the
      demonstration -- which they said was largely peaceful. They
      also described police use of weapons such as tear gas,
      pepper spray, rubber bullets, batons, and riot shields to
      control the movements of the protesters.

      There was no mention of anarchists groups who brought
      violence to past protests, such as in Seattle against the
      World Trade Organization (WTO), but some acts of civil
      disobedience were brought into effect.

      Community member Matthew Rybnick, 23, also protested in
      Seattle but was shocked by Miami. "They weren't police --
      they were a paramilitary group," he said in his description
      of the scene.

      Cornell junior and local Ithacan Danfung Dennis went to the
      protest specifically to disagree with agricultural
      subsidies, and he thought "the scariest part was how little
      media coverage of this event there was." Protesters reported
      that at least 10,000 people attended the event.

      Those involved in the protests are against the FTAA's plans
      to lift certain tariffs and non-tariff barriers in 34
      countries in the Western Hemisphere. Many of these
      non-tariff barriers are labor laws, environmental laws, and
      human rights laws, they say.

      The FTAA is operating as an extension of the North American
      Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and is attempting to unite the
      economies of the Americas into a single free trade area by
      2005, according to related Web sites. Activists also claim
      that FTAA negotiations have been conducted without citizen
      input and have largely relied on the advice of corporate
      representatives. They worry that under the agreement, local
      economies and living standards will suffer at the hands of
      multinational corporations vying for power.

      Protesters who assembled used puppets, banners and signs,
      and chanted, danced, drummed and sung to express their
      antagonism, reported Ithacan Travis Bettencourt, 21.

      "It is important to maintain space for free speech in the
      face of riot squads and helicopters, and to do it without
      fear, because the main weapon of the police is fear," said
      Sidle.

      Most of the protesters and many of those assembled expressed
      renewed determination in spite of the reported threats.
      All who spoke avoided arrest and viewed their efforts as
      successful, with the meetings ending a day earlier than
      scheduled and without many of the clauses that protesters
      objected to. The FTAA at the end of the protest was "an FTAA
      with no teeth," stated community member Dirk Trachy.
      One hundred dollars was collected at the meeting for the
      legal teams of those protesters arrested. Amnesty
      International and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
      are calling for federal investigations of police brutality.
      Said Trachy, "the most hopeful thing was the solidarity in
      the community."

      -- Olivia Nellums

      --
      Dan Clore

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