Their latest plot unfolded Saturday as they dressed up as bright yellow chickens to protest the grand opening of Carollo's Dogs & Cats Walkway, a new installation of pet sculptures at Maurice A. Ferré Park, conceived of by none other than commissioner-turned-art director Carollo.
The chickens were wearing sleeveless white undershirts, AKA wifebeaters, emblazoned with Carollo's mugshot from his 2001 arrest on a domestic battery charge while he was in the midst of divorce proceedings. Carollo, who was the mayor of Miami at the time, was jailed for allegedly striking his soon-to-be ex-wife with a teapot at their marital home, leaving a large welt.
As part of the fowl stunt, the chickens handed out undershirts with the Carollo mugshot to members of the crowd and held up signs stating, "Joe Carollo - Wife Beater" as Carollo was on stage at the Dogs & Cats Walkway event.
Thomas Kennedy, a writer, activist, and member of CUCK, tells New Times the group "was not yelling or being physically disruptive" when the Miami Police Department approached and booted the chickens from the event.
"They were told they had to leave a public event in a public park," says Kennedy, whose past protests against Gov. Ron DeSantis prompted state officials to ban him from the governor's press events.
As they were being escorted out of the park, one of the protesters, Morgan Gianola, had the audacity to hand out one of CUCK's signature undershirts to a passerby.
"As he gave this person the shirt, police went fucking ballistic," Kennedy says.
Video of the Miami Police Department's villain-busting handiwork, obtained exclusively by New Times, shows officers struggling to slap cuffs on Gianola over the chicken suit. Police then walk him off the park property before they disrobe him out of his costume next to a patrol car.
As of 8 p.m., Gianola was still in police custody, according to CUCK.
Kennedy, who was not dressed as a chicken, says Gianola joined the effort to egg on Carollo because he "wanted to participate in a little civic engagement and exercise his First Amendment" rights. He claims CUCK was formed by a small collective of activists who are "tired of corruption and grifting in the city government."
Attorneys David Winker, Frank Quintero, and Jose Quiñon are representing Gianola.
Calling the arrest "troubling," Winker says Gianola has been charged with resisting an officer without violence, trespass after warning, and disorderly conduct.
"There is perhaps no conduct more constitutionally protected than political speech at a public event in a public space about an elected official. Everyone involved in arresting this chicken should be ashamed of themselves," Winker tells New Times.
Documentary filmmaker Billy Corben attended the event alongside the chickens. He says Miami taxpayers will wind up footing the bill if claims over the arrest spark litigation.
"Everyone can let a peaceful protest play itself out, and it all goes away. [The City of Miami] can't help but violate someone's constitutional rights, and they do it every single day," says Corben.
Corben previously funded Carollo protests that involved sending LED trucks around the city with digital banners featuring Carollo's 2001 arrest mugshot. Videos released of a recent truck ride played a parody tune in which the lyrics, "He's a wife beater," were belted out to the chorus of the Bee Gees tune "Night Fever."
The Dogs & Cats Walkway grand opening was a free event that celebrated the new park installation following a private ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 10. The park had its "soft opening" this past December during Art Basel and has already been "visited by thousands of people from all around the world," according to a press release.
Carollo and his current wife came up with the idea for the installment two years ago after she learned about a similar park in Colombia decorated with cat sculptures. The commissioner pushed the park concept through his role as head of the Bayfront Park Management Trust, which manages Bayfront and Maurice A. Ferré parks.
The sculptures were completed through an $896,000 contract with Art and Sculpture Unlimited Inc.
"You always have a few haters," Carollo said at a weekend press conference. "They try to make this [seem] like it was the end of the world, that what we were doing was the original, mortal sin."
The project caused a stir in the trust, as board member Cristina Palomo claimed it was approved without proper notice, discussion, input from art consultants, or competitive bidding. Palomo resigned in 2021, claiming the "poorly vetted project" was prioritized over other "long-promised essential park elements."
Update published 2/13/2023 1:30 p.m.: An arrest report obtained by New Times (attached below) claims that Miami police instructed the protesters to leave the event after they "began to make clucking noises which caused a disturbance" in the crowd and drew a complaint from the park manager.
The report states that after police issued a trespass warning, Gianola questioned why he was being kicked out and continued to hand out t-shirts. Police claim they arrested him for not obeying an order to
Gianola was taken to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. He returned to free-range status on Sunday morning, February 12, after posting bail.