"My father was always fighting against corruption," Paz says. "I saw him battle the system until he was able to help a lot of people. Now I'm just following in the same line."

When the light faded from the sky on January 31, the cops moved in. They marched methodically across the Government Center grass, tearing down tents and sweeping up sleeping bags. They arrested a young man for dancing in defiance, and a local blogger for filming them. Media outlets from across South Florida lapped up the scene that day: After nearly four months, Occupy Miami appeared dead and dusted.

But the real action wasn't downtown. It was less than a mile away in Overtown. Paz stood in the blacktop parking lot of 540 NW Seventh St. and addressed 30 of Occupy Miami's most resolute members. Make yourselves at home, he told them, unlocking the front doors on 26 empty apartments. There was only one rule here, he added: no violence. "This is Peace City now," he said triumphantly.

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."

Within an hour, protesters had torn the doors off the dank apartments and moved in. Music blared from speakers. Bongos thumped to the beat. A steady stream of beer arrived from the bodega down the street as occupiers lit spliffs and cigarettes. Someone grabbed a can of black spray paint and tagged, "Occupy THA Hood!" on a building across the street before scrawling peace and anarchy signs side-by-side near a third-story window.

The move was a coup for Occupy Miami. Scores of camps across the nation recently had been shut down. In Oakland, police shot a young war veteran in the head with a rubber bullet during a protest. Even Zuccotti Park in Manhattan had been dismantled.

But Paz's building offered a safe house. Over the weeks to come, it would become a community unto itself. By bringing together punks and professionals, high-schoolers and the homeless, it would come to represent the best of the movement. Its eclectic dwellers fervently believe they are improving America one apartment building at a time.

"That first night was beautiful," says Steve, a handsome 26-year-old who always wears the same shredded black sleeveless hoodie over an upper body of intertwining tattoos. A skull moon stains one shoulder, two devils kiss on his chest, and an anarchy sign burns on his right wrist.

Steve (who, like many occupiers, refuses to give his last name) is one of the building's most ardent occupiers. He was a 17-year-old Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School student in 2003 when the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit came to town. Steve and his friends donned black clothes and bandannas, taunted cops, blocked streets, and choked on tear gas. "I grew up in that shit," he boasts.

Now he calls Occupy Miami his "second revolution." Life hasn't been easy in between, though. 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. But he believes in the movement.

"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."

Roughly half of the occupiers are young, restless souls like Steve. Some, such as Ramy Mahmoud — an Egyptian-American computer animator and college graduate — have jobs, but most don't. They stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning, sleep until noon, and get by on food donated by local churches. They have plans to plant a community garden behind the building, but the ground is littered with rocks and trash.

The apartments are little more than wooden shells, open to the elements. They don't have running water. Only a few have electricity. Extension cords snake around the building like orange and black veins. And white plastic barrels in the courtyard contain communal water for showering or flushing toilets. It's like a college dorm in postapocalypse America. But there is still a spirit of togetherness, even if it dissolves each night into drunkenness.

"This is camaraderie at its best," says Thomas Parisi, a genial, sunburned Cuban-American activist from New York. "We are going to get this place up to code and then start with five or six other buildings in the neighborhood."

For their part, the occupiers insist they are improving the building, not destroying it. They have removed moldy furniture and patched the roof, however unprofessionally. And they have turned two empty apartments into an Occupy Miami office called "The Future Machine" and a medic's station next door.

The protesters also claim they are making the building and the surrounding neighborhood safer, not sketchier. "There are a lot of crackheads in Overtown," Steve says. "But we are fixing up this place so kids see that they don't have to live like that."

Many of the younger occupiers seem to be here to reinvent themselves, and to avoid responsibilities.

Take Luis, a trim martial artist with a nervous laugh, who says he left his wife and three young children in West Palm Beach before hooking up with Occupy. He hasn't seen his family in months. He was head of camp security at Government Center — a role some say Luis enjoyed too much. Like many here, he believes the FBI paid "infiltrators" to start fights within the camp. "We had the KKK come and start shit," he claims. Now, however, he has little to do. "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."

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102 comments
Stacey95962173
Stacey95962173

my best friend's aunt brought home $19599 last month. she been working on the laptop and got a $473700 condo. All she did was get fortunate and put into action the steps exposed on this link ...MakeCash10.com

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

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 >>>> LazyCash1.com

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

@Alberta ṁy claśśṁate'ś aunt Ṁakeś $76/ĥour on tĥe internet. Śĥe ĥaś been Witĥout Work for 9 ṁontĥś but laśt Ṁontĥ ĥer pay Waś $8817 juśt Working on tĥe internet for a feW ĥourś. Ŕeaď Ṁore ĥere ...LazyCash1.com

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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