Bushs Soviet Union of America: "Miami crowd control would do Tyrant proud"

Discussion in 'Politics' started by TigerO, Dec 1, 2003.

  1. TigerO




    "Miami crowd control would do tyrant proud

    By ROBYN E. BLUMNER, Times Perspective Columnist
    Published November 30, 2003

    Miami police Chief John Timoney must be mighty proud of the social order he maintained during the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit a couple of weeks ago in Miami - sort of the way Saddam Hussein was proud of quieting dissension in his country.

    Timoney has a well-deserved reputation for using paramilitary tactics to turn any city where large protests are planned into a place where the Constitution has taken a holiday. During the FTAA meeting on Nov. 20, Timoney dispatched 2,500 police officers in full riot gear against a crowd estimated at 8,000 people, mostly union members and retirees.

    The result was a show of force that would have made a Latin American dictator blush.

    Slavish public officials such as Miami Mayor Manny Diaz touted Timoney's handiwork as "a model for homeland defense," and the Miami Police Department has responded to complaints by saying that officers demonstrated "a tremendous amount of restraint."

    But this is hardly the way eyewitnesses described it. The scene was a "massive police state," according to the president of the United Steelworkers of America, who has demanded a congressional investigation. Congress gave Miami $8.5-million for security during the FTAA meetings - funds slipped inside the $87-billion measure for Iraq. The steelworkers called it money for "homeland repression."

    The National Lawyers Guild, a liberal legal organization, said the day was punctuated by "indiscriminate, excessive force against hundreds of nonviolent protesters with weapons including pepper spray, tear gas, and concussion grenades and rubber bullets."

    Observers said the provocation for officers to shoot rubber bullets and paint balls filled with pepper spray at the predominantly peaceable crowd was often one person lobbing an orange in the direction of police or lighting a trash can on fire.

    Nikki Hartman, a 28-year-old Pinellas County resident, was shot three times with rubber bullets - once, she said, when a police officer fired point-blank at her behind after she stooped to pick up a bandanna she'd dropped. The officer had kicked it her way before shooting her. She was later shot in the back while retreating from police lines. Her friend Robert Davis was shot seven times while trying to help Hartman to her feet.

    In addition to such shootings, police abandoned any legitimate basis for searching and arresting people. Miles Swanson, 25, a legal observer for the lawyers guild, was punched numerous times while being taken in by officers for pointing out undercover police dressed up as protesters. Eight of 60 guild observers were arrested that day; they wore distinctive green hats and were apparently targeted. When Swanson was grabbed off the street by three Broward County sheriff's deputies - two of whom were in ski masks - he said they told him "this is what you get when you f-- with us." Then, Swanson said, the deputies drove him around while looking for another legal observer to arrest. He ultimately pleaded no contest to one charge of obstructing justice so he could return to law school in Washington, D.C.

    Celeste Fraser Delgado, a 36-year-old reporter for the Miami New Times, was interviewing protesters when she was arrested. According to an Associated Press report of her ordeal, she overheard police arguing about what to charge her with. The two misdemeanors - failure to obey a legal command and resisting arrest without violence - were dropped the next day.

    The police seemed especially sensitive to having their actions photographed or taped. Sean Lidberg, who was stringing for a Minnesota paper, said his group of friends was aggressively detained and searched by police because one of them had picked up and put down a coconut found on the ground.

    "We're from Minnesota and never saw coconuts growing wild," said the 20-year-old Lidberg. When he tried to take video of the police searching through his backpack, Lidberg said, "they shoved the camera down and wouldn't let me document anything said or done." Police proceeded to take most of what he had in his backpack, which included two gas masks. He doesn't expect to see his stuff again.

    When contacted for comment, the Miami police first asked for case numbers. When those were provided, the public information officer said he didn't have time to comment on the incidents and hung up when his name was requested.

    Ever since the melee at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, where demonstrators blocked streets and vandalized stores, conference planners and public officials have adopted a no-holds-barred approach to potential large-scale protests. And Timoney is their man. Militant protesters, "punks" as he calls them, are anathema to Timoney. Shutting them down with Pinkerton prowess is his specialty. Rights, schmights.

    Anyone who cares about civil liberties might remember Timoney as the police commissioner of Philadelphia during the 2000 Republican convention - an event marked by police making pre-emptive arrests on baseless charges and smashing heads. This led to lucrative private consulting offers for Timoney and then, this year, to the top-cop spot in Miami.

    His antiprotester philosophy is a fitting sign of the times and intersects nicely with the new FBI protocols established by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Ashcroft recently junked FBI guidelines that prevented agents from monitoring groups without evidence of criminal wrongdoing, saying it was vital for antiterrorism operations. But in a J. Edgar Hoover redux, it turns out that this flexibility is being used to spy on and collect intelligence on antiwar protesters.

    When men like Timoney and Ashcroft are on the A-list of the nation's law enforcers, free speech doesn't stand a chance. It is open season on dissent. A vignette reported by the Miami Herald says it all: During the FTAA action, Timoney came upon a protester who was pinned against a car being arrested; without knowing anything about the circumstances, he pointed a finger at the demonstrator's face and said, "You're bad. F-- you!" People exercising their First Amendment rights are now considered the enemy."



  2. TigerO



    "The war on dissent
    Heavy-handed police and propaganda tactics brought Baghdad to Miami

    Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - Page A21

    In December, 1990, U.S. President George Bush Sr. travelled through South America to sell the continent on a bold new dream: "a free-trade system that links all of the Americas."

    Last week, Mr. Bush's two sons joined forces to try to usher in that new world by holding the FTAA negotiations in friendly Florida. This is the state that Governor Jeb Bush vowed to "deliver" to his brother during the 2000 presidential elections, even if that meant keeping many African-Americans from exercising their right to vote.

    And yet, despite the Bush brothers' best efforts, the dream of a hemisphere united into a single free-market economy died last week. It was killed not by demonstrators in Miami, but by the populations of Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia, which have let their politicians know that if they sign away any more power to foreign multinationals, they may as well not come home.

    Outside, we experienced something distinctly heavier: "War Lite." In fact, the more control the U.S. trade representatives lost at the negotiating table, the more raw power the police exerted on the streets.

    "Our goal was to drown you out," one Miami-Dade police officer explained to me, and that's exactly what they did. Small, peaceful demonstrations were attacked with extreme force; organizations were infiltrated by undercover officers who then used stun guns on activists; busses filled with union members were prevented from joining permitted marches; dozens of young faces were smashed into concrete and beaten bloody with batons; human rights activists had guns pointed at their heads at military-style checkpoints.

    Police violence outside of trade summits is not new, but what was striking about Miami was how divorced the security response was from anything resembling an actual threat. From an activist perspective, the protests were disappointingly small and almost embarrassingly obedient, an understandable response to weeks of police intimidation.

    Listening to the incessant roar of helicopters and the march of police boots, I couldn't shake the feeling that something new was going on. It felt less like we were the targets of this operation than the target practice, unwitting extras in an elaborate military drill.

    The FTAA Summit in Miami represents the official homecoming of the "war on terror." The latest tactical and propaganda techniques honed in Iraq -- from a Hollywoodized military to a militarized media -- have now been used on a grand scale in a major U.S. city. "This should be a model for homeland defence," Miami Mayor Manny Diaz proudly said of the security operation that brought together over 40 law-enforcement agencies, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    But in order for the Miami Model to work, the police first had to establish a connection between legitimate activists and dangerous terrorists. Enter Miami Police Chief John Timoney, an avowed enemy of activist "punks" who repeatedly classified FTAA opponents as "outsiders coming in to terrorize and vandalize our city."

    With the activists recast as dangerous aliens, Miami became eligible for the open tap of public money irrigating the "war on terror." In fact, $8.5-million spent on security during the FTAA meeting came directly out of the $87-billion President Bush extracted from Congress for Iraq last month -- a fact barely reported outside of the Miami press.

    But more was borrowed from the Iraq invasion than just money. Miami police also invited reporters to "embed" with them in armoured vehicles and helicopters. As in Iraq, most reporters embraced their role as pseudo-soldiers with unsettling zeal, suiting up in ridiculous combat helmets and brand-new camouflage flak jackets.

    Local television stations didn't cover the protests so much as hover over them. Their helicopters showed images of confrontations but instead of hearing the voices on the streets -- voices of demonstrators pleading with police to stop shooting and clearly following orders to disperse -- we heard only from senior police officials and perky news anchors commiserating with the boys on the front line.

    Meanwhile, independent journalists who dared to do their jobs and film the police violence up close were actively targeted. "She's not with us," one officer told another as they grabbed Ana Nogueira, a correspondent with Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! who was covering a peaceful protest outside the Miami-Dade county jail. When the police established that Ms. Nogueira was indeed "not with us" (i.e. neither an embedded reporter nor an undercover cop) she was hauled away and charged.

    The Miami Model of dealing with dissent reaches far beyond a single meeting. On Sunday, the New York Times reported on a leaked FBI bulletin revealing "a co-ordinated, nationwide effort to collect intelligence" on the U.S. anti-war movement. The memorandum singles out perfectly lawful protest activities including non-violence training, videotaping of police actions and Internet organizing. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the document revealed that, "The FBI is dangerously targeting Americans who are engaged in nothing more than lawful protest and dissent. The line between terrorism and legitimate civil disobedience is blurred."

    We can expect much more of these tactics on the homeland front. Just as civil liberties violations escalated when Washington lost control over the FTAA process, so will repression increase as the Bush crew faces the ultimate threat: losing control over the White House.

    Already, Jim Wilkinson, director of strategic communications at U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, (the operation that gave the world the Jessica Lynch rescue), has moved to New York to head up media operations for the Republican National Convention. "We're looking at embedding reporters," he told the New York Observer of his plans to use some of the Iraq tricks during the convention. "We're looking at new and interesting camera angles."

    The war is coming home."



    http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20031125/CONAOMI25//?query=Naomi Klein
  3. From what I can see, no one's right to free speech or dissent has been infringed. Their ability to riot, destroy property, shut down a city and inconvenience and threaten tens of thousands of other people has been affected. Like a bunch of spoiled brats, they are incensed that they were not allowed to act out their "rage" against ...well, against something, what is not exactly clear.
  4. TigerO



    Police violence in America. In better days for America Amnesty investigated human rights abuses of dictatorships. In the day and age of Bush, where democracy, free speech, civil liberties, the right to dissent etc no longer have much meaning, we ourselves are coming under scrutiny:


    "Amnesty urges probe of police conduct
    A human rights group seeks an investigation of Miami police, and protesters describe being hit with Taser guns, shot with rubber bullets and pepper-sprayed last week.

    ATTENTIVE: Lisa Fithian, from United for Peace and Justice, listens to stories told by people reporting police abuse during the FTAA protests at a news conference in downtown Miami on Wednesday. C.W. GRIFFIN/HERALD STAFF

    Amnesty International on Wednesday called for an independent investigation of police conduct during last week's anti-free-trade protests in Miami, joining several groups who say excessive force was used.

    In a statement, the human rights group Amnesty International called for a full investigation into reports that hundreds of jailed protesters were mistreated, including a woman who was allegedly strip-searched by four male officers and left naked. The statement said other detainees were beaten and sprayed with pepper gas and high-powered water hoses."