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 Day 19

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Militarization in Miami Threatening the Right to Protest

Militarization in Miami

by The Time Of The Main Demonstrations On Thursday, The Police Couldn't Hold Themselves Back.

In different circumstances, it would have been funny to see the police outnumbering the direct action protesters, or the comically attired "undercover" agents who were a bit too well built to credibly seem part of the ranks of the slight direct action protesters — many of whom are vegans.

But it wasn’t funny.

Not when the police — responding to the smallest provocations, such as a couple small fires lit in trashcans — went berserk and attacked large crowds of protesters. Not when credible reports say some of those undercover agents may have been provocateurs, and when several of them emerged as some of the most brutal in attacking protesters.

There is immediate need now to support those who were jailed and mistreated, and force the city to drop trumped up charges against protesters.

You can help by sending a fax to Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz protesting the violation of constitutional rights. Public Citizen has established a free fax site at:

http://www.citizen.org/

Those who are facing charges will need legal help. You can donate to support them by going to:

http://stopftaa.org/

or to

http://www.unitedforpeace.org

Activists, the National Lawyers Guild, the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil liberties standard bearers must do all they can and will do to oppose the rising repression evidenced in Miami. But that’s not enough.

There will, undoubtedly, be civil lawsuits down the road, and, if there is any justice, they will succeed. But that’s not enough, either. As important as such litigation is, it is clear from recent crackdown on protests around the United States that police forces are willing to absorb the costs of these suits.

The present cycle is that the media and political establishment applaud the police for running scare campaigns, militarizing cities, directing violence against protesters and blatantly violating civil liberties. Often, as details emerge, criticism emerges from those same pillars of society.

This must change. The establishment must speak out now, immediately after the abuses occurred. They are apparent to anyone who cares to know about them.

In the future, the establishment — we mean newspaper editors, political leaders of all parties, lawyers, even corporate executives — must insist on appropriate police tactics in advance of large-scale protests, and they must make clear that regular police and top officers alike will be held personally accountable for abuses. If they fail to pursue this course, the consequences for the right to protest will be grim indeed.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, and co-director of Essential Action, a corporate accountability group. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman