Eight Protesters Arrested at Miami Federal Courthouse During Michael Brown Demonstration UPDATE
Protesters show their support for Michael Brown in downtown Miami.
Photo by Sabrina Rodriguez
Eight protesters were arrested at the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building in downtown Miami Thursday afternoon.
Hundreds of demonstrators met in downtown Miami across from the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus to peacefully demand an end to police brutality in response to the ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Protesters, with their hands up, walked in silence to the federal courthouse where U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer's office is located. Their goal was to peacefully protest inside the lobby of the building until the U.S. attorney came downstairs to hear their demands.
After more than an hour in the lobby, protesters were escorted out of the building, which was closing for the night. But eight demonstrators decided to stay, leading to their arrest.
The protesters arrested were Alekos Zambrano, Andrew Arachikavitz, Vivian Azalia, Marie Paul, Shamile Louis, Curtis Hierro, Ciara Taylor, and Marcia Olivo. Seven of the protesters are a part of Dream Defenders, a youth organization that works to bring social change through nonviolent civil disobedience. Olivo is a part of Miami Workers Center, another local organization working for social justice.
It is unclear what charges the eight will face because they were arrested in a federal building. Neither the Miami-Dade Police Department nor the U.S. Marshals Service in Miami have responded to requests for comment from Riptide.
This is one of dozens of demonstrations being held across the nation tonight in solidarity with those protesting in Ferguson.
"Our U.S. attorney and the U.S. attorney general have the power to do a lot more for people brutalized by the police," said Phillip Agnew, executive director of Dream Defenders. "We will continue to show solidarity with the people in Ferguson, Missouri, because this is unacceptable."
Early in the protest, demonstrators met across from the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus and chanted on a street corner. They yelled, "Hands up! Don't shoot!" and "No justice! No peace!" and "Not one more." Many of the protesters wore shirts representing Dream Defenders, Power U, and Miami Workers Center, which are all local organizations seeking social change through nonviolent ways.
Protesters, who asked that all police officers wear front-facing cameras at all times, then walked in silence, their hands up, toward the courthouse. They crowded the building's lobby and asked to see the U.S. attorney. Officers and building security then said that it was unlikely Ferrer would be available and that they should make an appointment with him instead.
"We're showing our solidarity to the people of Ferguson, Missouri, after they witnessed one of their own murdered in cold blood," Agnew said. "What they're doing is the reaction any human being would have after that."
Regardless, protesters resumed their chants, and multiple speakers voiced the group's demands. Two of the speakers were Vivian Azalia and Thiago Sousa, close friends of Israel "Reefa" Hernandez's, the teen graffiti artist who died after he was shot in the chest with a Taser fired by a Miami Beach Police officer last year.
"I don't want to be here, but I know I have to be here," Azalia said. "It makes so much sense to be here. I'm scared, but I will keep going until there's not one more."
It was the fourth night of protests in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot multiple times by a police officer. Witnesses claim Brown and a friend were stopped by the police officer, who then attacked Brown. He was unarmed.
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