Letters from the Issue of December 25, 2003

FTAA: Thug

That would be Chief John Timoney: There was so much righteous, justified, and articulate indignation over Miami's handling of the FTAA ministerial meetings that I was hesitant to comment. But I want to congratulate New Times and reporters like Celeste Fraser Delgado for your coverage and dedication.

If there was any doubt in the minds of visiting dignitaries that Miami was capable of mustering as singularly fascist a police state as any of their home countries, the FTAA protests put those doubts to rest. Regarding Miami Police Chief John Timoney, his arrogance alone should be grounds for dismissal. I've been in Miami for 40 years and have known numerous good cops, but I would count the chief among the "out-of-town thugs." The biggest anarchist and scofflaw was hiding behind the top-cop badge.

Kali Ente

Miami

FTAA: Creeps

That would be newspaper thieves: New Times staff writer Celeste Fraser Delgado's account of her arrest during the FTAA protests ("Jailhouse Crock, November 27) must have offended someone. I have no way of knowing who did it or which New Times distribution box was looted, but when I went to throw out my trash on Saturday, lo and behold inside the Dumpster was what looked to be a full newsrack of New Times papers with her story on the cover. Obviously creeps who do stuff like that have no fear of getting in trouble. In fact their actions most likely are condoned by the powers that be.

The only way the evil people among us will succeed with their plans is if good and honest people do nothing. Keep up the good work, New Times.

John Thorp

Miami

FTAA: Targets

That would be public officials: Thanks to the Miami Police Department, there is a cloud of shame and disgust hanging over our city. The brutality witnessed by and inflicted upon all who came to practice their constitutional rights will never be forgotten. We saw police harass, intimidate, assault, and batter innocent and nonviolent protesters. What possibly could have been going on behind the FTAA's closed doors that was more important than our civil rights?

Miami police, please reflect upon your actions. Who were you serving and what were you protecting? Owing to your gross misconduct, you, along with Manny Diaz, Alex Penelas, and Chief John Timoney, will be targets forever.

Daniel Clapp, Jr.

Miami

FTAA: Disturbing

That would be my graphic photo:I attended what seemed to me a very peaceful FTAA protest on Thursday afternoon, November 20, not as a protester but as a photographer. I have always felt very safe with policemen. But I was shot two times by the police while photographing the events. A man next to me was shot in the head. The projectile made a gaping hole in his temple and lodged there. Blood was pouring out of the hole and out of his mouth.

I tried to help the man and so only got one photo, but the photo is very graphic and disturbing, with a huge bulge on his forehead where the object lodged. The man was doing nothing to provoke the police and neither was I.

Sheila Basu

Miami

FTAA: Wrong

That would be Miami's mayor: FTAA protesters (or as Chief Timoney calls them: punks and knuckleheads) got the message sent by Miami Mayor Manny Diaz: In his city you don't stand still on the sidewalks. FTAA protesters got another message: In Miami the Constitution of the United States is superseded by a police permit to demonstrate. Miami officials simply turned a blind eye to our Constitution, especially that part which states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."

Having seen all the good that Mayor Diaz has done for Miami, I find it hard to believe he would take pleasure in this abuse of power by his police department. No, I choose to believe the problem was that Mayor Diaz somehow lacked a copy of the Bill of Rights. Without those great words of wisdom to guide him, his government had no place to go but wrong.

Clyde Cates

South Miami

FTAA: Fools

That would be those who suppress dissent: Before Miami's officials risk further injury from so vigorously clapping each other on the back over how well they protected the city during the FTAA meeting, let me offer an outsider's view. This is the image of Miami reaching the rest of the world: Apparently the principal concern of city leaders was to make sure the FTAA meeting took place with a minimum of disruption. Public protests against the meeting and its proposals were held to an absolute minimum. Going in, then, public officials decided to protect the speech of the meeting participants and discourage speech outside the meetings. This despite the fact that any decisions taken by the unelected participants of the meetings would profoundly affect the lives of us all. To enforce their plan, city leaders used these tactics:

Police visited churches that might shelter FTAA opponents in advance of the meetings to discourage them from offering help, threatening special code inspections and zoning changes.

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