May Day was supposed to mark Occupy Miami's reemergence as a force for good. Instead, it raised questions about how much longer the movement will survive in Miami.
City police arrested three protesters during yesterday's downtown march, leading to another late-night protest outside the county's pretrial detention center. Yet, while arrests are nothing new for a movement that often practices civil disobedience, videos of the incidents show the event as a small group of protesters screaming insults at police. And, according to a police report, it was a protester -- not cops -- who threw the first punches before his arrest.
Videos and the report below.
In a statement sent out after the arrests, an Occupy Miami spokesperson said that protesters were provoked by the police "running cars and bicycles into the peaceful marchers."
"Miami police escalated what was a peaceful protest by pulling three individuals out of the crowd of 100 in front of the Wells Fargo and beating them with fists and batons," the statement says. "They also punched our live stream media in the face and nearly broke his phone."
Alfredo Quintana, ;Occupy Miami's 24-year-old livestreamer, was one of three protesters arrested yesterday. He faces the most serious charges: three counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and one count of resisting arrest with violence. Miami police say that the protesters did not have a permit for their march.
According to his arrest report, Quintana began pulling cops' arms while they were detaining another protester.
"When he could not get his friend free, he began to punch at the (officer), hitting him in the head one time," the police report says. Kevin Young, an Occupy Miami spokesman, says Quintana was just trying to film the arrests.
The report also seems to confirm, however, what Young told New Times yesterday: that cops had punched Quintana.
"I attempted to gain control of the subject but was pushed back in the chest," the arrest report continues. "While falling back, the defendant was struck in the face twice by me." The report says that when the cop fell down and cut his leg on his bike, Quintana left the scene only to be spotted by officers later and arrested.
Here is the video of Quintana's arrest (but not the punching incident):
And here is earlier footage of another protester getting arrested:
While the videos don't reveal anarchy on the streets of Miami, they do show a small, angry crowd yelling "fuck you" at police. They also show several protesters -- including Quintana -- appearing to resist arrest.
In light of our recent reporting on Occupy Miami's chaotic Overtown "safe house," it's fair to ask where the movement is headed.
Some members are wondering that themselves. Here's an abbreviated exchange from the group's Facebook page:
Whisper NH M: "So who is 'running' OM? I use to try to help where I could, food ETC. returning to the Apts when I can. However, it is nothing to be proud of. I recently went to offer my help and I was robbed not once but several times of my property then mocked by the lil crack heads in the corner. The same ones who pushed their way in front of each food line. What the police said was very true. It goes to show what type of people are really there. Of course no one there took responsibility. It's pittiful. How are you trying to create a movement when the one you got going on right there is a pit. Then the ones who do try to help are mocked. Oh but things get rough who got alot of calls? So I ask who is running OM?? I hear of the GA meetings how blah blah blah. Pull your S*** together before you go out and expect others to respect anything you do."
Occupy Miami: "We do appreciate your help, and please remember that Occupy Miami no longer exists in one physical location. The apartment building in Overtown is one of several projects, and though a number of Occupiers live there, it is not to be construed as the only representation of the movement. We are more focused on putting events together (rallies, teach-ins, entertainment, etc) around the city than occupying one space...."
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.