More than two dozen cops swarmed Occupy Miami's Overtown safehouse yesterday afternoon after responding to what appears to have been a bogus terrorism tip The raid was the second on Occupy Miami in the past six weeks. On January 31, Miami-Dade cops evicted protesters from Government Center. This time it was City of Miami police officers that arrived in SWAT vans and emerged with their assault rifles drawn.
"They were pointing guns at children!" says Ramy Mahmoud, one of three Occupy Miami members taken in for questioning and then released without charges. The Miami Police Department did not return a request for comment left last night. As soon as they do, we will update this post.
Update: Click through for New Times video of the raid's aftermath:
Here's Jake Katel's video report on the raid:
Mahmoud and other Occupy Miami members were preparing to travel downtown to protest the birthday of Chase Bank CEO Jaime Dimon when at least half a dozen police vehicles screeched to a halt in front of the building on NW Seventh Street.
A cop in a dress shirt and bullet-proof vest jumped out of an unmarked car, aimed his gun at them, and shouted, "Everyone on the ground," according to Occupy Miami members.
"I thought it was either a joke or he was robbing us," says an occupier who gave his name only as Cobra. "Then an ice-cream truck full of SWAT officers pulled up."
Nearly 30 cops -- many carrying assault rifles or shotguns -- spread out around the building, ordering people to the ground and patting them down for weapons.
"They said that they had gotten a tip that we had 'long guns' and were going to use them at our protest," Thomas Parisi says. "But we are a peaceful movement and told them that we had no intention of doing anything like that."
Occupy Miami members, who have been living at the building since they were evicted from Government Center, said the cops mistreated them.
"They stepped on our backs to see if we were packing guns," Parisi says. "They forced a 57-year-old diabetic woman onto the ground. And they pointed their guns at my wife."
Three occupiers were initially placed in handcuffs but were released at the scene. Cops then asked Mahmoud and two other Occupy Miami members to accompany them downtown for questioning. There they were kept in separate rooms and interviewed for a little more than an hour, he says.
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"They were asking me questions like, 'Are you a Muslim?' and 'Do you love this country?'" Mahmoud says. "I said hell no, I don't love this country, and it's because of shit like this.
"They are calling us terrorists, but what I saw today was demons pointing guns at us," he adds. "They terrified us."