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(en) US, Another take on the FTAA - Inside a Miami Jail

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 30 Nov 2003 10:25:07 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

This article is not supposed to be about me because I'm so
great or something, it's just that I can only write about
what I've seen and heard, so that' s what I'm going to do.
It helps that I was in the more interesting and/or hairy
situations. This will not include everything because I'm not
writing a novel here, but most important details will be

Unfortunately, the amount of writing dedicated to certain
events is not proportional to their importance, but to their
complexity. Also, I'm not going to address the corporate
media's deceptions. Don't believe them, they lie. I was
there. Their reporting can be summed up in the sentence,
"The emperor's new clothes are exquisitely beautiful."

A reporter named Al Crespo wrote some good stuff about it if
you get to see it. I've been working on this protest for
about 2 months. I've been building puppets full-time
(overtime actually), except for a week and a half when I was
in Gainesville and the Ruckus Society action training camp.
The Lake Worth Global Justice Group opened a warehouse for
building puppets, attracted puppet builders from all over,
organized housing for probably almost 100 people, and
supplied delicious vegan food at least once a day. (They
even posted my bond.) So I built 4 major puppets and helped
on other people's projects. I made a 23-foot tall corn
stalk, corn being a sacred crop; it also symbolized the
dumping of surplus mass-produced, subsidized corn into
Mexico under NAFTA which helped to displace 5 million rural
people, and created a desperate class of people to staff the
sweatshops popping up along the US-Mexico border.
Unfortunately the corn stalk puppet never flew because the
wind was too strong so I didn't put it together. I built a
puppet of the Statue of Liberty, being hanged from a gallows
that read "FTAA". I also built a puppet of caged water, and
a big ass sunflower.

The Miami City Council passed an anti-protest ordinance at
Chief Timoney's request. The original version would ban
puppets, so we brought some puppets there and let them see
what they were going to ban. We carried a dragon-like
alligator puppet through the meeting too. We protested it
three times. Miami revised its ordinance to have an
exception for puppets.

Boca Raton followed Miami's example with an even more
ridiculous ordinance that banned "gyrations" among other
things. We got 5 minutes each to speak at the commission
meeting. When Waffle's turn was on, he put duct tape over
his mouth and stood there at the podium for 5 minutes, at
the end of which, he put his fist in the air and started
gyrating his hips. Boca revised its ordinance too.

We took all the puppets to Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 16 for the
"Root Cause" people's march. Root Cause is an alliance of
grassroots movements, such as LIFFT (Low income families
fighting together) of the Miami Worker's Center, Power U,
and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The purpose of the
march was to bring the concerns of low-income communities of
color to the forefront of the FTAA issue, and they did some
terrific organizing. We walked 34 miles into Miami over
three days and had lots of media coverage, as well as lots
of police intimidation. A woman from a church where we
stayed the night said that before anyone had even asked the
Church about our staying there, the police had threatened
the pastor with selective zoning enforcement and warning him
about what kind of dangerous anarchists we farmworkers are.
Everywhere we went, we were flanked by squads of police; in
Miami, they came in full riot gear. They took our pictures
and baby-sat us at night. The North Miami police, however,
contributed some pastries to our breakfast. Pompano Beach,
located north of the beginning of a march heading south)
took time out of its busy schedule to serve march organizers
with an injunction forbidding the march from entering
Pompano Beach.

So we walked 34 miles and had lots of support from
onlookers. When we arrived in Miami, thousands joined us for
the first big protest in Miami against the FTAA, and
together we continued to Miami's Berlin Wall (constructed to
protect the rulers from interference by the ruled). We had a
concert at Bayfront Park where I met more people from
Gainesville and went to their hotel with them. We couldn't
all fit into Tom's car, but an angel in the form of a
Peruvian student at the community college where Tom's car
was parked gave the rest of us a ride to the hotel.


Our first stop was the convergence center. Food Not Bombs
was kicking ass. Groups from all over the US came to work on
it and they had massive amounts of delicious food almost all
the time. I put together my dead liberty puppet and
experienced a media circus, with an "Alligator" photographer
being the first one there.

We proceeded to the permaculture site. My friends Abigail
and Rebecca from Sarasota wanted to create an example of an
alternative sustainable structure for society, and to leave
Miami better than we found it. They did a heck of a job. The
Pagans were there and among them my friend Zot from Gainesville.

Next we went to the Root Cause People's Tribunal.
Representatives of affected communities testified against
the FTAA and it was sentenced to destruction.

That evening, we ate at a Cuban restaurant. The menu had
"freedom fries" on it. After dinner we went to the Union
concert. Billy Brag and Dead Prez played.


We woke up at 5am to get to the convergence center for the
high risk action. My Gainesville based affinity group was in
the puppet cluster. The plan was to break into affinity
groups and swarm Government Center from all sides. There we
would put on a puppet show, and then march to the fence,
take it apart, get into the hotel, and disrupt the meetings.
So we swarmed.

The black block massed at the convergence center, and began
marching to Government Center just after we left.

Cops were running frantically to mass for the black block
(their enemy). We took a path less traveled and came upon
the puppet truck, being detained, and stayed to watch. After
some watching, the black block, trying to outflank the cops,
came around a building and headed south toward us. Then a
battalion of bike cops came at us from the east along the
road where the puppet truck was being detained. We ran. Most
of us got around the leading edge of the bikes, but some
were corralled in with the black block, who were led toward
the police station and detained until the morning's actions
were over, at which time they were released.

Finally, we reached Government Center. The puppet truck had
been freed and passed us along the way. We were out of time
for the puppet pageant, but we still unloaded the puppets
and paraded them down the street in an unpermitted march.
All the stores downtown were boarded up. The cops had told
them all to close.

We didn't get far. Police set up barricades at various
intersections to close us in. There were about 1500 of us.
Drums played, people danced, then the cops started pushing.
Like really mean rude shoving in a line, and if you got too
close, they'd pepper spray you.

The barricade on one side of us disappeared. We were
approaching the fence. It looked like a set-up. Some people
attacked the fence. Cops beat their heads in with batons. We
were being pushed toward the Union march that was to start
in a couple hours.

My friend Lela was hit on the head and needed stitches.

We got into a permitted area and stayed there, near the
fence, for some time. Then the cops decided to push us right
into the Union activities, where we had agreed with the
Unions not to hold high risk actions. I had leaned my caged
water puppet against a tree and went to a bathroom. When I
got back, it was behind a line of riot cops. Tear gas went
off, concussion grenades, pepper spray. People tried to hold
space, but every time the chemical weapons were used, people
would surge forward, trying not to run.

A couple times, the witches tried to hold space on the front
lines. They got sprayed. My friend Zot got sprayed all over
her face. She displayed the characteristic red skin, with
all kinds of mucus and tears flowing out of her face. She
was helping put water on other victims. She said something
like, "I just got pepper sprayed all over my face and I'm as
calm as a pussy cat." She is an inspiration.

Despite all the danger, I was surprisingly unafraid. I was
not scared, or angry, or even had a thought of responding to
the police violence. It was strange, because I'm a coward. A
week before I was scared shitless. But there, it didn't seem
so scary. So I'll get sprayed, I'll get over it, no big
deal. A lot of people seemed remarkably calm like this.

Then the cops stopped pushing. People hung around on the
wide road by the bayfront where the Union rally was in
progress. Cops were still making trouble though. A few
times, "snatch squads" of plainclothes cops would grab
someone and drag him or her across the police line.

The black guy in the foreground is with the squad. I think
this victim is the guy who was tazered before being dragged.
He was electrocuted again after they placed him in custody.

Cops electrocute people for fun. In case you don't know, a
tazer shoots barbed electrodes into you that are very
difficult to remove. They are attached to the gun with
wires, and it electrocutes you. It makes a characteristic
popping noise. People have died from them.

The AFL-CIO announced that police had detained 187 of their
buses and kept all those people from attending the march. I
heard police also closed the exits of hotels and people
couldn't get out. A line of riot police controlled entry and
exit from the amphitheater that the Unions had rented. They
let in most of the large Union groups walking from their
busses, but were rather erratic about other people. This was
despite the fact that we had an open invitation to the rally.

I heard that at one point the crowd inside the railing was
pushed so hard that a bunch of retirees fell over the side.
Riot cops jumped on them and started swinging. When they
pulled all the retirees off, they found a young person on
the ground and said "He's not one of yours, we're taking
him." Eventually the Union people marched out of the
amphitheater, and began their march. There were a lot of
them, with flags and banners ,and some of our puppets were
still being dragged around. The march snaked through the
streets and came back to the bayfront. Some people went back
in to the amphitheater, others hung around outside.

I was lounging on some grass with some friends when a crowd,
led by drummers, got up and moved south toward the police
line (which was holding quite a distance north of the
fence). I still haven't found anyone who can tell me why
they did that. So they went right up to the cops and had a
little rally there. I walked down to see what was going on,
and met some Gainesville people I hadn't seen in a long
time. We were catching up on things while the situation
around us grew very tense. I think Jackie asked me if the
cops would really tear-gas a group like this, and I said
something like "yeah, if they want to" and it was just about
then that they did. Someone told me later that the commander
announced that we could stay there as long as we were
peaceful, and immediately ordered an attack. Volleys of
rubber bullets flew out, as did pepper balls, and bean bags
and tear gas.

Some people who looked like protesters threw things back at
the cops, but I think they were all agents. Some of them
threw smoke bombs, threw back the tear gas canisters, empty
plastic water bottles, rocks--anything they could find.
Police lines started advancing from three sides, forcing us
up one road, away from the open area. Some black-clad people
grabbed anything they could find to construct barricades and
light fires.

It was around this time that Suzie was hit. She was very
distraught. She has a black and blue mark on her butt that's
about three inches wide. Suzie probably got hit with
something like the big one. The little ones are hard plastic
balls filled with pepper powder.

The people I met who were hit with things were not involved
in throwing anything. Most of them were actually trying to
get away. Suzie, Faith and I ran up the escape road
together, and got far enough up that things calmed down a
bit. We met more Gainesvillains and had quite a large group
together, until the police assault got closer and we ran
again, getting lost from each other.

We saw people walking up the road past us with all kinds of
welts and injuries, bleeding profusely from their heads,
etc. It was unreal. It was like a war zone. Shots whizzing
by my ears left and right. People panicking, bleeding,
shouts of "Medic, Medic" the walking wounded limping away.
It was like a Vietnam movie. Lots of my friends who were
just trying to get away were shot. Some elderly people
climbing onto buses in the area were shot. I heard that a
couple of people tried to stand and face the police, holding
peace signs or placards, and that they were riddled with
bullets mercilessly.

The police pursued us east on that road to Miami Ave. (the
main N/S road), and then north on Miami Ave. Riot cops had
all the other roads blocked. At the back side of the turn
onto Miami Ave. was a government building surrounded by a
fence, guarded by a few riot cops. When we came up to it to
go around the corner, they opened fire too. I could see the
ordinance exploding on the bars of the fence, and sometimes
on people.

Lots of Union busses were parked along that road too, and
some people were trying to board them. I met back with a
couple friends , and at NW 8th St. the way was open for us
to go west. Police were pushing the crowd toward the
convergence center, and a poor black neighborhood called
Overtown. As we left Miami Ave., some people were setting up
a barricade there. I saw one guy throw an empty plastic
bottle at the approaching police. It didn't get there. He
stuck out his middle fingers at them and then took off. So
did we. We went to NW1st Ave, which runs roughly parallel to
Miami, and headed north again. I had told some friends we'd
meet back at the convergence space.

So police pursued the crowd relentlessly from bayfront park
down roads, for more than a mile. They would attack, people
would surge forward, then wait to see what happened next,
and the police would attack again. Lots of people tried to

When our escaped group got up to 10th St, we saw the bulk of
the crowd coming west toward us. People were running around
a train crossing gathering debris for a barricade. I heard
they had a major standoff there.

The residents of Overtown all stood outside their apartments
to look at the commotion. We warned them of the approaching
police violence as we passed. They were very supportive.

We went west to 2nd Ave. and continued north. Other groups
trying to escape went north on 2nd too. So did the cops. A
phalanx of riot police was in pursuit. We ran northwest,
across empty lots and fences, and finally found a good
hiding place. We watched the event horizon pass before us,
and stayed there till dark.


Lots of neat workshops and events were planned. We checked
out of the hotel, and once again, we could not fit into
Tom's car. This time no angels. I humped my pack to the
train station and eventually got it to a friend's house
where it still lies. We hung out there for a little while,
and eventually I got to the "really really free market"
event. I think there was something about giving people
ribbons if you liked something of theirs and writing on it
and having some sort of free commerce, but I got there late
and someone else can explain it better. Food Not Bombs was
giving away food and the witches were having a spiral dance.

I communicated to my ride who was at the jail support rally,
and she said cops had massed and looked menacing. So I
figured if I was going to get to the jail support protest,
I'd better go soon or it would be over before I arrived. As
it was, I got there just in time to get arrested.

When I got there, not many people were left. Maybe 50 people
were standing around the southeast corner, mostly on the
sidewalk. I stayed on the sidewalk the entire time. The
police were across the road on the west side. They charged,
weapons drawn. We backed up, our hands in the air, chanting
"put down your weapons."

They backed us up the street a short way, and stopped. An
officer spoke on a bullhorn, saying, "Pursuant to section
(something) of the Florida State Statutes, I declare this
assembly to be unlawful, you are ordered to disperse" The
crowd demanded to know on what grounds the assembly had been
declared unlawful. The reply was because we were blocking
the street, so everyone moved to the sidewalk.

We asked, "Who's blocking the street now?" An ambulance
appeared to be trying to get through and the police wouldn't
let it. One guy yelled out at the police, "I declare you to
be an unlawful assembly. You are ordered to disperse."

Then the police came at us again. We moved down the
sidewalk, our hand still raised, chanting "we are
dispersing". The police surrounded us, and attacked. I was
thrown into a bicycle that was on the ground and cut up my
knee. Someone said "everyone sit down" which seemed like a
good idea, so I did. The cops started dragging people away
and hosing the crowd with pepper spray. An officer in back
of me hosed me with pepper and I had my head turned and
caught some in the right eye. Around that time, enough
people had been thrown into a chain link fence to push it
down, opening some more space. I grabbed a water bottle out
of my bag and moved to the less crowded area across the
fence to pour water on my eye.

I pulled my right contact lens out at that point. I wear a
very strong prescription, so I couldn't hardly see anything
with that eye. For the rest of the story, think about how
things looked to me. I could not focus on anything, had no
depth perception, and my brain could not resolve the images
my two eyes were seeing, so everything was double.

A girl with pepper sprayed eyes was calling for a medic, so
I put water on her eyes too. some for you, some for me, etc.
Cops were standing around and after a little while one in
front said to me. "that's enough, give me the water bottle
you're being arrested." A cop pulled my hands behind me and
handcuffed me. I cooperated fully and felt like a sellout.

The girl in front of me was wearing a nice backpack. The
cops cut it off with a knife. Another guy was wearing
glasses. He said a cop twisted up the frame until the lenses
broke and put them back in his pocket. In processing, cops
called the broken glasses a weapon. The police dumped
people's belongings on the road, including expensive camera
equipment of the reporters, and left it there for cars to
run over.

The girl in back of me recognized my UF Hillel t-shirt that
said "Florida" in Hebrew letters. We talked hebrew to each
other in that line, and later in the processing facility.
She knew it better than I did, and communication was not
easy, but it was nice. Her name was Elaine. She had straight
brown hair, glasses and a pretty face. That's all I know
about her.

I learned later that the cops had chased down everyone who
had tried to escape earlier, arresting some as far as 10
blocks away. One guy was talking on a payphone and never
went to the jail support rally. He was charged with loitering.

I smiled for the picture with my arresting officer before
they loaded me into the paddy wagon. In my half of the paddy
wagon was Ernesto, a friend from Gainesville, who was a
legal observer. Two Indymedia reporters from Ann Arbor were
in our half, too. We were able to get to some cell phones
and put them in our laps and yell into them to contact
legal. The wagon was hot and sweaty. The sweat mixed with
pepper spray that was all over my back. I spent 3 hours in
that wagon, sweating and burning, I had some pepper spray on
my leg, the skin turned bright red, it also ran down my
fingers. My hat fell off and I tried to pick it up with my
mouth. More pepper. I left the hat.

One of the Indymedia reporters had needed to use the
bathroom before she was arrested, and pleaded for it the
whole three hours. She was told she could go when we got to
the processing facility. I don't think they let her go
there, just threw her in the cage with everyone else. It was
probably six hours she had to hold it until she got to the jail.

We met an interesting officer who held the doors open
sometimes so we could get air. He had been a bounty hunter
in the former British territory of Rhodesia, and defended
the white racist government of Rhodesia to us. He talked
about one arrested person who he said "got a little too
cute, and now he's in the hospital." He said we were lucky
they didn't kill him, or they'd charge us with his murder,
and explained the legal concept of "felony murder." They
arrested a lot of people that day and it took three hours
before we were let off the wagon.

When we got to the processing facility, they called me out
of the wagon for decontamination. I had to stand under a
freezing cold fire hose and then go to a tent. I was shaking
uncontrollably from cold. They cut my cuffs off and I was
ordered to take off all my clothes, shoes and underwear, and
throw them in the garbage. A woman officer was present,
which seemed improper. They gave me a towel and some
paper-like hospital clothes, and put the cuffs back on, tight.

The processing facility was a parking garage with cages.
They threatened us if we didn't want to give our names. Said
if we gave our names, we'd be out that night. Lies. I was
told I wouldn't last 2 minutes on the 4th floor where we're
going. They talked our ears off with their lies. I was made
to stay in one of the cages for a number of hours. I have an
unstable shoulder that was hurting a lot from being cuffed
behind my back. I asked lots of cops if I could be cuffed in
the front because of it. They laughed.

I was finally taken for more processing. They demanded my
birthdate. They said they couldn't process me without it.
Lies. And that I would be kept here all night with my cuffs
on if I didn't tell them. They said "you can go over there
and finish the processing and get your cuffs off if you give
us your birthdate." I needed to get those cuffs off and
agreed. Lies.

The charges they wrote on my ticket were "illegal assembly,"
"resisting arrest without violence," "failure to disperse,"
and "assault of a police officer."

I was taken "over there" and was talked to in Spanish by an
officer who didn't believe that I didn't understand him. We
filled out forms for my belongings that they had taken. No
news of my backpack. My new clothes did not have pockets, so
they stuffed the forms in my waistband, and made me wait for
a paddy wagon.

Once we were on our way, they shut off the ventilation and
let us cook. They had a bbq to celebrate and let us cook in
the parked truck while they ate. We were taken into a lobby
of the jail, which was refrigerated, and I was all sweaty.
More hypothermia. After we were taken for mug shots, they
handcuffed us in front with loose zip ties. Much less bad.
My wrists were badly bruised and I have some nerve damage
now so I can't feel anything on part of my left palm and thumb.

We were split up into a few rooms and fingerprinted,
catalogued, photographed, etc, etc, etc. It took a long
time. We demanded water and food. Our demands were mostly
not met. It was between nine and 12 hours after arrest
before any of us were allowed water for the first time.

Our paperwork was all stamped with a bright red FTAA. And
our form numbers all started with FTAA too.

Food was bologna and cheese on imitation white bread. I ate
the bread. It tasted like balogna. Around 3am, we were taken
to our cells. They had cleared out enough space to put each
and every one of the hundreds they had arrested into
solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement sucks. It's not just being alone, I've
been alone for a lot longer than that. It something else. In
addition, the place has a spirit to it. A very bad spirit.
It was the most terrible place I have ever been. It must be
like what it feels like to walk through Auschwitz. Just
being there made me want to cry. Everyone else I talked to
had the same experience.

The cell was cold. We didn't get bed sheets or toilet paper.
There was something that looked as though it may have once
been a pillow, the last such thing I encountered.

The solitary confinement drum circle: Communication was
almost impossible, but sound from banging on the cement
carried well. We had a drum circle up there for a few
minutes. I tried to play along even though I'm not a good

Jail is very different from the real world. We got three
meals a day, but they're 8 hrs apart. Breakfast is at
12:30am, lunch at 8:30am, and dinner at 4:30pm.

We got to our cells about 3am. They woke me up for lunch. I
had to walk down the stairs, take the food off the tray, and
carry it back up. Deli turkey and cheese on white and an
orange. I didn't get my acid medication despite having
filled out all their forms and having a 2-week supply in my
pocket. So I ouldn't eat their deli meats both because it's
against my religion and because it aggravates my acid reflux

Bond hearing. They won't treat us as a group, few people
want to do jail solidarity, everyone wants to get out ASAP
because they can't stand being in solitary. Our lawyers seem
very capable. My charge list is reduced to "failure to
disobey an unlawful order" and bond reduced from $2000 to
$250. I gave my name at the bond hearing.

I am put into a cell with a reporter who was arrested
Thursday. He and other reporters were trying to escape the
"river of violence" as he called it, snaking through Miami.
They were surrounded and taken in. People had already come
to pay his bond, but they were told they could not because
he had not been to his bond hearing yet. Another lie. He
didn't get out till the next day.

He told me of a firefighter from Minnesota who was in Miami
on vacation and pulled off the highway to get a lemonade.
Upon returning to his car he found his way blocked by police
and asked them which way to go to his car. They told him, he
went, and then was arrested. He had a special fireman's
knife with him and was charged with weapon possession. At
his bond hearing, the prosecution determined that he
actually was a fireman, and dropped the charges.

Lying on the bed, and looking at the cieling, the light
coming in from the window and hitting the texture of the
cieling formed the image of Ghandi. Either that or I was
halucinating from having only eaten some imitation white
bread and an orange in 24 hours.

Dinner came. Mystery meat. I ate everything else and was
still very hungry. I decided I needed to eat it to maintain
my health. I cannot fast, having acid reflux disease. I
stared at it for a while, a piece on my plastic spoon. It
really didn't taste too bad, but it felt wrong. That was the
first time that I felt like I had done a bad thing. It was
something I'm not supposed to do. I felt like those people
in the movie "alive" forced into cannibalism in order to
survive their plane crash

After dinner, the light patch on the ceiling looked more
like Bush #1.

The next day we were moved into a misdemeanor stockade. A
guy was moved with us who didn't look like us. He said he
moved to Miami a few days before his arrest and had no idea
anything was going on. He was sleeping outside the homeless
shelter like all the other people waiting to get a room,
when cops decided he was too light skinned to be an actual
homeless person and therefore must be an anarchist. His
paperwork was stamped with a bright red FTAA too.

The misdemeanor stockade was full of people in for domestic
violence, DUI, and driving on a suspended license. One of
the trustees (in charge of laundry) took care of us. He was
glad to have someone he could talk to. He mostly talked
about how crazy his girlfriend was, that he was in here for
violating a stay-away order with. We were able to eat better
there, as the trustees were able to get extra trays of food.
I imagine that they would otherwise be forced to live on
about 1000 calories a day.

I called my parents a couple times from the phones there. I
felt an intense sense of shame, when the collect call
recording said "correctional institution," probably because
of my subconscious classism, even thought I knew I didn't do
anything wrong.

While in, I made three separate requests to the nursing
staff for my acid medication. I never got it.

It wasn't until Tuesday morning that the support team
succeeded in bonding me out. I was told they tried a day
earlier, but because I had been moved, the jail couldn't
locate me, and our support team had to try again the next
day. The window to claim belongings was closed by the time I
was let out. I plan on buying new shoes and another
backpack, pleading not guilty, beating the charges, and
having a hell of a lawsuit. Wish me luck.

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