Occupy Miami descends into drugs and chaos in an Overtown apartment building

Dusk settles on Overtown. Children ride their tricycles in lazy figure eights along NW Seventh Street. Young men with baggy clothes and fistfuls of dollar bills throw dice next to a windowless bodega. Downtown's skyscrapers rise in the distance like steel and glass sentinels.

For three years, this has been Charane Odho's neighborhood. It's poor and imperfect, the 37-year-old grandma with pale skin, dark tattoos, and raven hair admits — but it's home nonetheless. Suddenly, however, it's occupied.

"It's like we live in a huge crack house now!" Odho says. She points a long manicured fingernail at brown smears on her apartment complex's yellow paint. "They poop on the walls," she says, stifling a gag as she steps over stinking piles on the pavement. "They poop in the back of the building and wipe themselves with socks... Who are these people? We don't know who the hell they are."

Rodrigo Duque, AKA Señor Paz, has let dozens of Occupy Miami members squat at 540 NW Seventh St. in Overtown.
Jacob Katel
Rodrigo Duque, AKA Señor Paz, has let dozens of Occupy Miami members squat at 540 NW Seventh St. in Overtown.
Charane Odho has been living in the apartment complex for three years; she calls Paz "a slumlord."
Jacob Katel
Charane Odho has been living in the apartment complex for three years; she calls Paz "a slumlord."

Welcome to phase two of Occupy Miami. Protesters call it "Peace City." Locals call it a living hell.

They arrived the last day of January: young and old; black, white, and brown; clean-cut professionals and grimy gutter punks. Their tents and lean-tos once clogged a lawn outside county hall like a South American favela. Now they have overtaken Odho's Overtown apartment building, ripping off doors, tagging the building with black and red graffiti, and hanging posters from the railings. Yet there is little the cops, let alone Odho, can do. The squatters didn't invade. They were invited.

When scores of Miami-Dade Police in riot gear swarmed Government Center on January 31, the crackdown looked like the end of Occupy Miami. The four-month-old movement was already splintering. The tent city had grown dirty and occasionally violent, and even some protesters were glad to see the sit-in shut down.

Yet Occupy Miami didn't die. A mysterious, messianic slumlord who calls himself Señor Paz — Mr. Peace — welcomed the protesters into his dilapidated building at 540 NW Seventh St. For the occupiers, it was a miracle: a haven from the police and a place to plan their campaign against corruption and fat-cat corporations. Paz was their savior.

But for the building's rent-paying tenants, Paz has unleashed a nightmare in Overtown. The squatters blast loud music late at night, openly use drugs, and regularly wage drunken fights with one another. And though Paz claims he is trying to save the neighborhood from crime, tenants say he is to blame for the violence and narcotics. Some residents have begun to fight back against their unwanted neighbors. Tensions are boiling.

Across the nation, the Occupy movement is reeling from evictions and arrests. But the Overtown encampment is a one-of-a-kind experiment. It could either save or scupper Miami's own uprising. Some protesters say it has given them a black eye and have tried to distance the movement from Peace City. Others insist it's the strategic headquarters they need to wage a war on inequality this summer — if city officials don't condemn the collapsing structure first. And at the center of the controversy looms the mysterious Mr. Peace.

"He's on drugs," Odho says of Paz. "He's high out of his mind. He's letting them totally destroy our building. Pretty soon, nobody is going to be able to live here."

Paz, though, says Peace City will change the world. "This is our Zion, our Jerusalem," he says. "It is the place of the righteous."

Like other revolutions before, Occupy Miami is going through its own reign of confusion and terror. Its commandments are broken and abused, its values blurred. And if Señor Paz's apartment building is any indication, the movement's good intentions might lose out to utter lawlessness.

"America isn't real," Paz says. "It's just an idea. It's a whole bunch of people thinking, Oh, this is America. But America is a violent idea. It requires wars and killing. I am not in America."

The 32-year-old sits at a metal table on a sidewalk downtown, picking at a tray of chicken tacos. Unlike many of the Occupy members squatting in his building a few blocks away, Paz wears clean clothes: a designer T-shirt, jeans, and soft leather loafers. His long black hair hangs in perfect coils. His round, scruffy cheeks frame a permanent smirk. Paz speaks slowly and in riddles, often referring to himself in the third person.

"I have not accepted the idea of America in my consciousness," he continues calmly. "The law of Peace City is not the law of America. The law of Peace City is if you are peaceful, you are good."

Paz is not your average Occupy Wall Street protester, not an angry college student, aging hippie, or underwater mortgage holder. Instead, he's an enigma: a wealthy landlord who has opened his $1.6 million property to poor protesters, but faces accusations of stealing from his equally poor tenants. He is the son of a powerful Colombian politician, but is determined to give away his worldly possessions. He says he's not religious, but emulates Jesus. He is the architect behind Peace City, but he just might be insane.

Interviewing Paz is like dropping acid with Socrates. "Where am I from?" he repeats a reporter's question. "I am from here. But what is this place?"

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102 comments
Stacey95962173
Stacey95962173

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Stacey95962173
Stacey95962173

my buddy's step-sister made $12239 a month ago. she is making cash on the internet and bought a $389000 home. All she did was get lucky and work up the information reported on this web site MakeCash10.comONLY

Dashark
Dashark

Occupy Mov. is Obama owned and operated by ACORN.Another huge Obama FAIL

Aria Anderson
Aria Anderson

Even though not everybody will agree, I have learn that everything is nothing but the mirror of our-self.With that said, I can only feel sorry for the writer of this story, since the only things he could see are negatives, he must have some deep issue inside of him.When I go there, I see happy kids involve with sign making, neighbor showing solidarity and a lot of good people working on making positive changes into the neighborhood and society.

PerryLuis21
PerryLuis21

My best friend's sister made $19668 the prior week. she has been making cash on the laptop and got a $424600 house. All she did was get fortunate and set to work the directions explained on this site

PerryLuis21
PerryLuis21

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Odel Gauri
Odel Gauri

Look for "Peace City" on youtube by mediafish...

the feeled
the feeled

This building needs to be condemned before someone dies in there. Don "Peace" is a nutcase who wants to live like a homeless with no responsibilities. Whining communists living in a capitalist society...occupy the crap you're sitting in somewhere else.

weaponartist
weaponartist

all the lonely people /// where do they all come from???

dario
dario

I don't think there is much new in this story: there are divisions in this movement, protesters are evicted from public grounds then, someone of means invites protesters to private property. This has happened in other places around the country. It's also no surprise that protesters are generally unruly, tend to sprawl their messages everywhere, experiment, and are not averse to illicit drugs. We should look at Occupy Miami's accomplishments and failures, then apply them to our own actions.

runrandrand
runrandrand

WHAT AN EXCITING AND JOYFUL TIME TO BE ALIVE! THE PEOPLE AND NEWS AND ECONOMY AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS----ALLLL DOIN' ABSOLUTELY NUTHIN'!!!!!

runrandrand
runrandrand

MIAMI TAXPAYERS AND WORKERS DESCEND INTO BLACK MARKETS AND DRUGS----JUST TO PAY THE BILLS---

let's dance
let's dance

Is he a legal resident of this country, or does his money make him the man?

let's dance
let's dance

This might be the reason his father sent him to america, to get rid of him knowing he is off the rocker. Make as many people as you can join you, is what the father may have told him, CRAZY.

Oskar Papo
Oskar Papo

well...Is Colombia , uneducated dumb ass

sarpedon1
sarpedon1

There is nothing worse than a brain-dead, middle-aged parasite, who thinks he's a philosopher. I have no doubt that what the Occupoops are leaving on the walls and sidewalks is more profound than anything coming out Paz's mouth.

I'm afraid I'd be suing Mr. Paz were I one of his tenants...

He needs to go back to Columbia and give them the benefit of his wisdom.

Floooob
Floooob

Wrong. It was a STUPID IDEA from the beginning.

Only a NAIVE POLLYANNA LIBTARD would think it was "beautiful".

Also, the "true revolutionists" in Egypt & Tunisia, etc. are a bunch of PRIMITIVE ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALIST ASSHOLES.

EAT SHIT AND DIE, YOU NAIVE LIBTARD.

Floooob
Floooob

"My battle is for Peace City. And Peace City is people."

And people are STUPID.

Floooob
Floooob

"A teenager with an Afro the size of a beachball plays a didjeridoo over a Gorillaz tune blaring from a cell phone."

This is truly the most horrifying part of this article so far.

Floooob
Floooob

""This is a black eye on the Occupy movement," says Shannon Reaze,"

The ENTIRE "occupy movement" is a black eye on the "occupy movement", you stupid bitch.

Floooob
Floooob

"Where's the money?" he yells. "Somebody is pocketing the cash. There should be no corruption inside Occupy Miami. We are supposed to be for the people, not stealing from the people. Some of these people are becoming the 1 percent."

LOL, nauseatingly naive libtard! BWA HAW HAW

Floooob
Floooob

""There are points in time when I've wondered if I really need to be here, if it's worth it. But I'm not a quitter."

No, you are just a DEADBEAT DAD, a LEECH, and a LOSER.

Floooob
Floooob

"They stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning, sleep until noon, and get by on food donated by local churches."

OCCUFAIL LEECHES.

Floooob
Floooob

"This is a system," Steve says one morning, so hung-over that one eye is pasted half shut. "We bring more people and discuss ideas... Eventually, we'll have so many people that the police can't stop us."

AWESOME DUDE, COOL STORY BRO

Drink some more corporate booze and smoke some more corporate cigs in the meantime while you wait for the Glorious Revolution, dipshit.

Floooob
Floooob

"His girlfriend isn't in Peace City, he says, because she's detoxing from a heroin addiction. They have a baby girl, who's being raised by his parents. "

Like I wrote just a minute ago, STEREOTYPICAL OCCUFAIL LOSERS!

Filthy drug-addicted LEECHES who are TOO FUCKING STUPID to realize how HYPOCRITICAL they really are!

Floooob
Floooob

"it would come to represent the best of the movement."

No, it represents the stereotypical WORST of the "movement", a bunch of retarded drug-addicted losers leeching off of the wealthy.

OCCUFAIL LOL

Floooob
Floooob

Why do the occutard occufail hypocrites smoke corporate cigarettes like fucking chimneys?

Floooob
Floooob

"Later, he brought expensive solar panels to charge cell phones and laptops (at least, until the panels were stolen)"

LOL OCCUFAIL

Floooob
Floooob

"It deeply affected Rodrigo, who couldn't attend the funeral. Instead, he said goodbye to Juanita and their 2-year-old daughter Cielo."

= ILLEGAL ALIEN, DEADBEAT DAD.

Floooob
Floooob

"But immigration issues prevented Rodrigo from returning home to see his shaken father."

= Paz is an ILLEGAL ALIEN.

Floooob
Floooob

"Paz, though, says Peace City will change the world. "This is our Zion, our Jerusalem," he says. "It is the place of the righteous.""

What an ABSOLUTE DUMBFUCK DIPSHIT.

janinec
janinec

You see...this is just an example of human nature taking over. Leftists always have these grand ideas of utopia and they sound wonderful...but they NEVER take into consideration human nature and human behavior. That is why socialism and communism do NOT work. When you put human nature into the equation, it always self-destructs.

MayoYvette22
MayoYvette22

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MayoYvette22
MayoYvette22

Ṁy buďďy'ś śtep-ṁotĥer Ṁakeś $82 every ĥour on tĥe coṁputer. Śĥe ĥaś been uneṁployeď for 9 Ṁontĥś but laśt Ṁontĥ ĥer cĥeck Waś $7938 juśt Working on tĥe coṁputer for a feW ĥourś. ĥere'ś tĥe śite to Ŕeaď Ṁore >> LazyCash1.com

ALBERTA
ALBERTA

@Ltdevon5 my classmate's ŝiŝteŕ-in-lāẁ bŕóught in $18411 lāst ẁeeḱ. ŝhe is māḱing an incóme on the cómputeŕ and móved in a $531900 cóndó. All she did was get fórtunāte and woŕḱ up the advice ŝhówn on thiŝ link..MakeCash2.com

Sparky5253
Sparky5253

Next up will be a hippie jam fest and drum circle!

Tell It Like It Is
Tell It Like It Is

Duque, aka Paz, is obviously off his rocker. In my partialy educated opinion, he is bipolar.

Skydvr77
Skydvr77

If they all just got jobs there would be nothing to write about...so keep up the good work we wouldn't want to stop paying for your welfare, childcare, section 8, food programs, and just generally having to pick up the tab of laziness. That's the america I know and the one these "protesters" love.

Ltdevon5
Ltdevon5

its the same as it always was - just a bunch of dirty hippies. At least they are in their own little sh*t-smeared corner now

tklo
tklo

@Dashark  you dumb

Phil Ünder
Phil Ünder

Was it really necessary for you to comment so many times? Especially when you spew infantile drivel?

Phil Ünder
Phil Ünder

Flooob, not that your username would lead me tho give you the benefit of the doubt but, are you capable of critical thought? .. Or is it safer to wade in monosyllabic bliss?

nanook5
nanook5

i actually miss when it was that simple.

 
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