An 18 year-old from Coral Springs was busted for wielding brass knuckles and a pocket knife, a petite middle-aged woman shouted "baby killers!," and a mob of protesters chucked rocks at a cop car. The Israeli-Palestinian protest Sunday on Biscayne Boulevard was a loud, colorful microcosm of hate - with Muslims waving red and green Palestinian flags on one side of the boulevard, and Jews holding hand-penned signs on the other. As the Herald reported yesterday, a dozen people were arrested, mostly for disorderly conduct.
What wasn't mentioned: The most serious charge (a felony battery) came from a bright, well-respected Bonita Springs doctor and director of a non-profit named Riadh Atmani. The Miami police report notes that the 42 year-old - a bearded, six-foot-five, 220 pound bear of a man - grabbed a police officer "and his prisoner," pulled them into a pack of protesters, "hit [the cop] in the face" and "broke the sergeant's glasses." Shortly afterwards, around 3:20 p.m., police described his demeanor as calm and soft spoken. Public records show Atmani runs Bonita Springs Islamic Center on Bonita Beach Road, about which little information is available. (He couldn't be reached at several listed phone numbers for comment.)
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Other highlights from police reports include: A 31 year-old from Jordan who allegedly tried to ignite a riot, then called a cop a "nigger"; a 23 year-old car-kicker from Kuwait, and a New Yorker who threw one too many punches in amid a mosh pit of demonstrators.
As of yesterday - the tenth day of what Israeli leaders dubbed "an all-out war" -- the Palestinian death toll had reached 550 and the Israeli toll hit 30. Israeli leaders have rebuffed recent peace efforts, and continue to launch air strikes as a response to rockets fired by Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza. (Unfortunately, for both sides, that has meant taking out civilians who are in the way.)
Like Atmani, at least eleven other Miami protesters found themselves so wound up from this past week's events, that they ended up in cuffs. In South Florida, it looks like the war is hitting home.