Human Rights

Personal Voices: Hope and Fear in Miami

A veteran activist finds much to fear, but also bits of hope, after being jailed in Miami.
I'm driving my truck back across this crazy country and awesome lands in a couple hours. I just spent the last month in Miami and South Florida making beautiful street theater and images, confined by myself for a few days in Dade County jail, helping to organize resistance to corporate globalized doomsday system and enjoying new and old friends. Miami was the most militarized, arrogant and repressive attack on social change movements I've seen in 24 years of trying to change things.

Last night I spent a couple hours with Ed Awoki in my final visit before I left. He's a 19-year-old activist from Western Massachusetts who suffered severe head injuries/concussion by police troops on Thursday November 20 and was denied any kind of medical treatment by authorities for two days in jail. Finally after two days he was bailed out and taken to a hospital. I also visited another young man who had plastic and metal fragments lodged in his eye and skull from a projectile fired from police guns. The hundreds of disturbing stories of detentions and illegal searches at gunpoint by unidentified cops and agents, injuries and physical abuse and injury, sophisticated COINTELPRO style disruptions and disinformation, and the sheer arrogance of dominating power by the army of thousands of heavily armed army of law enforcement and government officials and functionaries show an ugly possible future already suffered by so many.

In the face of this was some incredible solidarity between trade unionists, direct action folks, community based organizations, grassroots groups and nonprofits and local residents. A three-day march into Miami led by farm workers, tenants and environmental justice activists from the area framed the week. Over a hundred of us from Free Carnival Area of the Americas performed a street theater pageant about these local struggles and contributed colorful strong images to the Miami street resistance.

A couple nights ago, we passed out a thank you note to residents of Overtown "from some protesters" and were heartened by their strong support and their tales of hiding activists from police. Overtown in the poor mostly African American and immigrant neighborhood next to downtown that so hundreds of activists were chase through on Thursday evening. There is also a stronger response to police repression than I’ve ever seen, by Amnesty International and the ACLU, the Steelworkers and AFL, and by a broad coalition of labor, antiwar, direct action, global justice, civil liberties and community groups that I've been working with. Last Wednesday we held a press conference to tell the stories of arrested journalists, retirees, legal observers, medics and other. The corporate media coverage finally went national and international on a scale that the protests themselves had not. It's important to claim the victory for social movements-- especially in South and Central America-- that the Free Trade Area of the Americas has essentially failed, despite the face-saving empty agreement the globalizers spun.

I'm particularly impressed that a few thousand folks refused to back down and that Ed is already thinking about what he's going to do next in the campaign to divest his campus from Coca Cola when he gets out of the hospital. I remain quite hopeful. With love and resistance from South Florida, David
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