Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales today sent a letter warning the mayor and commission that an unknown number of gun-rights activists planned to fish from the pier with their guns on display. They also plan to carry their weapons where everybody can see them while walking a mile and-a-half to and from the 12th Street Garage despite the fact the city offered closer parking.
This, for some reason, is all legal under a state statute. That's the point that the stunt, organized by Florida Carry, is trying to make.
"The City Attorney's Office and the Miami Beach Police Department have been communicating with the organizer in an attempt to plan for this event," Morales wrote, "and the Police Department is preparing to accommodate the lawful activity of this group in a manner least likely to cause alarm to the public."
This past June, six members of the organization were stopped by Miami Beach Police during a similar event. The officers closed the pier, confiscated the weapons, and verified the members' licenses while detaining the group for about two hours. Once police concluded everything was legal, the men were released and their guns were returned to them. (The gun-rights advocates posted a video of the encounter on YouTube.)
In July, the group, claiming they were unlawfully detained, filed a notice of intent to sue the city. Those present included Christopher Philpot, Sean Devine, Jonah Weiss, Michael Taylor, Steven Jenkins, and Carlos Gutierrez, all from South Florida. They were detained for almost two hours. At least one of them was allegedly injured in the process, Florida Carry attorney Eric Friday told the Herald. "Those officers committed criminal acts against my members," he added.
Miami Beach officials defended the cops' actions. Chief Daniel Oates wrote in a June email that he was confident they acted properly.
"Given the current climate, if six people show up to a pier in South Beach carrying guns, our citizens expect us to respond promptly and address any potential danger," he wrote.
Florida Carry members are supposed to begin arriving sporadically around 9 a.m., according to Morales' letter. They plan to fish for a few hours and finish around 2 p.m. The organizer "was unable to provide any clarity" about how many people might be there.
Police will be onsite for the duration of the event, Morales wrote, to "protect the rights of all involved" and to "provide reassurance to the community."
"This is people going fishing, but we exercise our rights while we are fishing," Friday told New Times. "There are some people in the group that, but for the issue of trying to make a point, they might not come do this. There are other people, like me, that are avid fishermen."