Dangerous Medicine

For street medics tending to FTAA protesters, neutrality was no match for brutality

Ron Rosen, a doctor of Oriental medicine from Colorado, was even closer to the door. "I was outside treating two people who seemed to have internal injuries," he reports. "We were about to get one of them to the hospital when the police line came up the street. I was trying to get the patient into the clinic when I was hit in the shoulder with a rubber bullet." Rosen says he was wearing a stethoscope around his neck and a vest with the word "Medic" in four-inch yellow letters when he was shot. "I got the guy inside and was trying to get back out to help my other patient when the woman doing door security at the Wellness Center tried to close the door. I still remember the look of absolute rage on the policeman's face when he sprayed her in the face with his pepper spray."

All the medics say there were no protest activities emanating from the clinic, and that while they didn't interrogate those who arrived for treatment, neither did they allow the center to become a refuge for protesters hiding from police. Says Rieke: "We work very hard to maintain neutrality for the specific reason that we won't be targeted by police and we can continue to treat people."

The story is "absurd on its face," says Miami Police Department spokesman Delrish Moss. "We have no reports of anything happening at the Wellness Center. And in terms of the police going around doing things like that, it's just ridiculous to think that they'd waste their time that way."

Miami-Dade Police spokesman Det. Robert Williams says that pepper-spraying medical facilities "is not something we would do." Williams says there is no record of any such incident. "Just like any agency, we have our own watchdog group, our internal-affairs bureau. If these people are alleging that this happened they should make a complaint through official channels."

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