Headbangers Ball

Claims that police didn't aim at FTAA protesters' upper bodies get a black eye

Besides the videos, the CIP will also be able to consider firsthand accounts from street medics. Jeremy Savage, a 24-year-old Washington, D.C. resident and member of the DC Action Medical Network, e-mailed this account to New Times: "I treated two people in the street on November 20 with head wounds. The first was a male who was hit on his left temple with a rubber bullet and it split his head open. The split was about a half-inch long and a quarter-inch wide.... Shortly after he left we came across another male who was shot in his left eyebrow. A few centimeters lower and he would have lost the eye, I think. His main complaint was that he couldn't see out of any eye and had a massive headache. The blunt trauma blinded him. I don't know if it was permanent or not."

Beibin, the film festival director, said he saw one male demonstrator in his early twenties who had taken a rubber bullet to the eye. "It was just -- red," Beibin recalled. "I could see the cornea and the entire eye was just red, bulging." (He believes the man must now be blind in that eye, but at press time New Times hadn't been able to locate the protester.)

Timoney and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz may have thought the trouble was over, but the hitherto secretive CIP is now under the gun to deal with this situation in a very public way. The body was created by a public referendum in 2001. The Miami City Commission approved the thirteen members this past March; they first convened in June. Since then the panel has been bogged down in administrative issues and has yet to launch its first case. Unlike Miami-Dade County's Independent Review Panel, which investigates complaints against county cops, the CIP has the power to subpoena witnesses. Because police operations for the FTAA involved city and county forces, the IRP has proposed cooperating with the CIP on the hearings. The IRP has scheduled a public meeting for December 19 at its office at 140 W. Flagler St. to discuss how to respond to complaints stemming from the FTAA protests. The CIP's next meeting is scheduled for December 16; at press time the site was undetermined.

Also at press time, the Miami office of the American Civil Liberties Union had received more than a hundred complaints about police conduct during the protests, at least nine of them involving serious injuries. The CIP had taken in just five, but a request for details went unanswered. The IRP had received three formal complaints from demonstrators alleging Miami-Dade police used unnecessary force on them. IRP executive director Eduardo Diaz read a transcript of one he received by phone this past Friday from a Florida State University student: "The complainant reported that several members of the Students United for Peace and Justice were fired upon without any advance warning by Miami-Dade police. The complainant reported that he has videotaped footage of several incidents which can be viewed at www.tacitconsent.com."

Timoney may have more to worry about than CIP public hearings or a congressional investigation, being sought by trade unions that participated in the demonstrations. Since 2002 the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division has been investigating the MPD's policies, practices, and procedures, in response to controversial killings by police and allegations of excessive use of force. This past March, Justice Department lawyer Steven Rosenbaum sent the Miami city attorney a letter outlining concerns the inquiry had turned up so far. "MPD fails to provide clear guidance on what constitutes a reasonable use of force," Rosenbaum wrote. Specifically investigators found flaws in the department's policies aimed at avoiding unnecessary use of Tasers and canines. The investigation has not delved into MPD's procedures and practices regarding rubber bullets and beanbags, nor whether it was necessary or reasonable to fire them at protesters' heads. The Justice Department may want to add that to the list.

The Civilian Investigative Panel seeks complaints from people who feel they were abused by police during the FTAA protests. A form is available at www.ci.miami.fl.us/cip or at the CIP office at 155 S Miami Ave from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays. Complaints also can be faxed to 305-579-2436 or 305-400-5028. Video Footage

Here is a partial list of Websites containing video from the FTAA demonstrations:

www.ammopr.org

www.tacitconsent.com

www.ladygalaxy.org/ftaa

www.ftaaimc.org

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