Potato. Po-tah-toe. One person's recklessness is another's effort to inform readers of what may lie ahead. That doesn't mean I'm in favor of herding hundreds of protesters into holding pens or creating stupid laws that would curtail constitutional rights and be impossible to enforce. At the same time, I don't look forward to seeing a bunch of self-righteous activists plot assault under the guise of global justice.
On a recent Monday night I watched the Miami-Dade Police Department go through maneuvers on the deserted streets of downtown Miami. A phalanx of cops decked out in black helmets, body armor, shields, tear-gas guns, and truncheons marched up Third Street to a group of mock protesters. It was unnerving and disorienting, a scene suited to more desperate places. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad the cops are practicing and am hopeful the discipline will keep them from overreacting during the FTAA. But the exercise highlighted exactly why the city commission should not pass the protester ordinance. As a nation we've already succumbed too much to fear. No one felt it necessary to enact draconian laws after the riots of the Eighties and Nineties, after the Elian Gonzalez melee, or following the many Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez protests. And it's not necessary now.