FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

London and Miami, Cops in Two Cities

The climax of the big demonstrations against President Bush on his recent London jaunt was the toppling of a papier mache statue of the commander in chief, a reprise on the carefully staged pulling down of Saddam’s statue in Baghdad earlier this year. If those London jokesters had tried this in Miami during the recent protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit, it’s a pretty safe bet they would have been gassed, tasered with electric stun guns, battered with rubber bullets, arrested and charged with felony counts costing them thousands until a judge threw the charges out.

Mainstream coverage of the protests has missed a very big story, which is Miami proved once again that these days lawful political protest is a very dangerous business. Top cop in Miami was none other than Miami police chief John Timoney. Back in the summer of 2000 this same Timoney was police chief in Philadelphia, trampling on rights to lawful assembly during the Republican National Convention. His storm troopers were found later by the courts to have have infiltrated protesters’ meetings and acted as agents provocateurs; to have acted with undue force; to have illegally detained peaceful protesters. The macabre climax of Timoney’s rampages was the arrest as he walked down the street of John Sellers of the Ruckus Society. Sellers famously became the first American ever accused of brandishing a cellphoner with intent to commit a crime. Bail for Sellers was initially set at $1 million before a judge threw the charges out.

Listen to Jeremy Scahill, producer-correspondent for Pacifica’s daily “Democracy Now” program.

“No one should call what Timoney runs in Miami a police force. It’s a paramilitary group. Thousands of soldiers, dressed in khaki uniforms with full black body armor and gas masks, marching in unison through the streets, banging batons against their shields, chanting, ‘back… back… back.’ There were armored personnel carriers and helicopters.

“The forces fired indiscriminately into crowds of unarmed protesters. Scores of people were hit with skin-piercing rubber bullets; thousands were gassed with an array of chemicals. On several occasions, police fired loud concussion grenades into the crowds. Police shocked people with electric tasers. Demonstrators were shot in the back as they retreated. One young guy’s apparent crime was holding his fingers in a peace sign in front of the troops. They shot him multiple times, including once in the stomach at point blank range.”

Scahill says there was no need for any demonstrator to hurl anything at the forces to spark police violence. “It was clear from the jump that Timoney’s men came prepared to crack heads. And they did that over and over. ”

Miami got $8.5 million in federal funds from the $87 billion Iraq spending bill. Miami Mayor Manny Diaz called the police actions last week “a model” for homeland security. As in Philadelphia, the model also included deployment of undercover police as provocateurs. At one point during a standoff with police, Scahill recalls, ” it appeared as though a group of protesters had gotten into a brawl amongst themselves.

But as others moved in to break up the melee, two of the guys pulled out electric tazers and shocked protesters, before being liberated back behind police lines. These guys, clearly undercover agents, were dressed like any other protester. One had a sticker on his backpack that read: ‘FTAA No Way.'”

Former California assemblyman Tom Hayden described later how:

“Protesters seemed to skirmish with heavily armored Miami police outside the Riande Hotel Thursday morning, but nothing is at it seems… These ‘anarchists’ were undercover police officers whose mission was to provoke a confrontation.

“The crowd predictably panicked, television cameras moved in, the police lines parted, and I watched through a nearby hotel window as two undercover officers disguised as ‘anarchists’, thinking they were invisible, hugged each other. They excitedly pulled tasers and other weapons out of their camouflage cargo pants, and slipped away in an unmarked police van.”

Undercover cops embedded themselves amid demonstrators and journalists embedded themselves with the cops. Scahill describes how he and his colleagues were suddenly confronted by Timoney and a crew of cops on bicycles:

“As Timoney was talking with his men, one of the guys on the bikes approached us with a notepad. ‘Can I have your names?’ he asked. I thought he was a police officer preparing a report. He had on a Miami police polo shirt, just like Timoney’s. He had a Miami police bike helmet, just like Timoney’s. He had a bike, just like Timoney’s. In fact there was only one small detail that separated him from Timoney–a small badge around his neck identifying him as a reporter with the Miami Herald. He was embedded with Chief Timoney.

“That reporter was one of dozens who were embedded with the Miami forces. We saw a Miami Herald photographer who had somehow gotten pushed onto the “protesters side” of a standoff with the police. The photographer grew angrier and angrier before he began hitting one of the young kids on the line. He punched him in the back of the head before other journalists grabbed him and calmed him down. His colleagues seemed shocked at the conduct. He was a big, big guy and was wearing a bulletproof vest and a police issued riot helmet, but I really think he was scared of the skinny, dreadlocked bandana clad protesters. He had this look of panic on his face, like he had been in a scuffle with the Viet Cong.”

If Timoney had been in charge of the London cops during Bush’s visit we’d probably now be looking at news film of funeral processions for demonstrators crushed to death in police-inspired stampedes. That’s the way the “Miami model” is headed.

 

More articles by:

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail