Notes From FTAA Fontlines

FTAA IMC. It looks from this page as if the police in Miami are on a hair trigger — which fits with everything we've been reading in the local press for the last couple of weeks. It would be tempting to dismiss this web page as agitprop — and it may be — but certainly the cops came armed for bear.

The mainstream media reports, Thousands march peacefully after early clashes. It starts off with how great things are, but the further you go into the article, the less great they sound — although so far at least there have been no major incidents, just many minor ones.

Even the boosterish Herald reports,

Among those arrested today: Marc Steier, an attorney with Miami Activist Defense, which defends the rights of protesters. He said he was seized by police early this morning and charged with obstruction of justice as he attempted to assist protesters.

''I didn't last 25 minutes on the street,'' he said.

And this doesn't sound fair:

Organizers said the route and the protester turnout was limited because of police actions. At the last minute, they said, police deleted a few blocks from the southernmost section of the route — the blocks that would have brought marchers relatively close to the Inter-Continental.

Platoons of officers appeared seemingly everywhere in the heart of downtown Miami. Many officers were dressed in riot gear and carried batons and plastic shields. Many police and media helicopters hovered overhead.

People I spoke to yesterday, late-middle aged academics trying to get to a hotel, near the FTAA meeting described a downtown under virtual lockdown with tanks on the street and an oppressive police presence.

Judging from the Herald, however, it may 'just' have been an armored Humvee…

But many participants complained about what they called police intimidation and heavy-handed tactics.

''I think I'm in a third world country …,'' said Sam Lender, 82, of Delray Beach. “When we got off the bus at Flagler we saw a tank and guys with gas masks and riot gear. Where's the protection against terrorism? Are we the terrorists?''

The ''tank'' was an armored Humvee vehicle on loan from Broward County.

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