County Revokes Occupy Miami Permit, Protesters Agree to Move But Not Leave
While several anti-Wall Street sit-ins around the country have devolved into violent stand-offs between police and protesters, Occupy Miami has been as peaceful as can be.
Now, however, Miami-Dade County is revoking the protesters permit for Government Center.
"The city is trying to get us to move camp tomorrow," Occupy Miami organizers wrote on the group's Facebook page late last night. "We aren't sure what is going to happen. What we are sure of is.. WE NEED YOU HERE."
Thomas Martnelli, Miami-Dade spokesman, sought to quash any talk of The Man cracking down on the 99 percenters.
"By no means are we trying to kick them out," he said when contacted by Riptide. "We are asking them to temporarily move their location because we have a crane coming into that spot next week for an installation. Once it leaves, they are more than welcome to reapply for their permit to go back to the original spot."
But losing its permit -- even temporarily -- would put Occupy Miami in a precarious position, removing its legal grounds for sitting-in Government Center and exposing protesters to the possibility of arrest.
Alex Ospina, an Occupy Miami member, railed against the permit revocation in a letter to the county yesterday:
You have stated that our permit will expire on November 10, 2011 at 5:00
p.m. Our permit, however, does not have an end date and therefore does not expire at that time.
Therefore, it appears that the County will be revoking our permit. This restriction on our First
Amendment rights is only permitted if it is narrowly tailored to serve a significant government
interest and provides ample alternative channels of communication. In fact, the restriction would be wholly unnecessary.
Ospina did agree, however, that Occupy Miami would move to "the grassy area north of the
West Lawn [that] is covered by our current permit."
Despite Martinelli's promises, some protesters are afraid that the permit issue is just a pretext to eventually boot Occupy Miami out of Government Center.
In fact, one Minneapolis-based protester, Xman Dee, warned on Facebook that his city's government did exactly that:
Stay strong guys, Im with occupy minneapolis and we are being told the same lies. Starting monday they will be essentialy kicking us out of the plaza due to new building policy rules. Their main excuse was the winterization process and other "safty concerns" dealing with the cold weather up here. Initally when they asked us to move the other side of the plaza for the winterization process we complied. Now were essentially being evicted. My advice; dont give up any ground without a fight!
Below is the full letter Ospina sent to the county yesterday. Stay tuned for more updates, Miami.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.