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A Miami Police Department officer touches a woman's breast while making an arrest Wednesday.
A Miami Police Department officer touches a woman's breast while making an arrest Wednesday.
Screenshot via @amelip3/Instagram

Video Shows Miami Cop Touching Protester's Breast During Arrest

A video taken Wednesday at a demonstration for George Floyd shows a Miami police officer grabbing the breast of Dulcee Barnes, a 22-year-old law student and activist, as she was taken into custody. The footage shows the officer walking Barnes down the street in handcuffs and reaching around to the front of her body and touching her right breast.

The incident occurred with around a dozen people present as police began to make arrests toward the end of the protest in downtown Miami. Barnes tells New Times she arrived around 6 p.m. while the arrests were being made.

"I walked up to the scene to watch to see what was happening," she recalls. "As I'm watching, one of the officers pointed me out and two other officers came up behind me and detained me."

Barnes says she wasn't fully aware of what was happening when her breast was grabbed by the officer.

"In the cop car I started having a panic attack, and it didn't really click why," she says. "I kept thinking that I was so afraid of being alone in the car with a male officer."

She says she understood the cause of her overwhelming rush of fear and emotion when she was shown the footage after her release from jail. "When I saw the video, my heart sank," she says.

The Miami Police Department (MPD) has not made a public statement about the video and did not respond to an email from New Times yesterday afternoon.

Barnes doesn't know the identity of the officer in the video. She says two cops handcuffed her and passed her along to a third officer, who handed her over to a fourth before she was placed in the patrol car of a fifth officer. All of the officers were men.

"In the cop car, the officer looked back and said, 'Wait, whose arrest are you?'" she tells New Times. "I was like, 'I don't know — how do you not know who arrested me?'" She says she believes the police report lists her arresting officer as one she met at the station, not the one who detained her at the protest.

Additionally, Barnes says she was never read her Miranda rights and was only informed of the charges against her after she arrived at the police station. Among them are resisting arrest without violence and obstructing a police officer.

She is still unsure of exactly why she was arrested on those charges.

"I kept asking why I was being detained, and they just kept telling me to stop resisting," she says.

Barnes spent three hours at the police station before being transferred to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, better known as TGK, north of Miami International Airport. While she waited at the station in handcuffs, Barnes says, an officer took a photo of her on his personal cell phone. He told her he was going to send it to a cop she had an altercation with at a protest the day before.

"I felt really violated," she says. "They were just laughing at us."

Other videos from the Wednesday-night protest depict activist Freddy Peralta being pulled off the sidewalk and thrown to the ground by officers before being arrested. Peralta, who is 59, was charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey an officer, and resisting an officer without violence.

Activist Freddy Peralta is thrown to the ground by police.
Activist Freddy Peralta is thrown to the ground by police.
Screenshot via @kenya.east/Instagram

Barnes and Peralta are part of a loose coalition of organizers and activists that has been meeting at the Torch of Friendship on Biscayne Boulevard almost every day for the past month. Peralta has been arrested six times in the past two weeks.

"We feel that I have been targeted by the police and that they are escalating violence against my peaceful protest," Peralta tells New Times.

An Instagram video of the minutes before Peralta's arrests shows officers telling the protesters to stay on the sidewalk if they do not wish to be subject to arrest. Peralta complies and protesters can be heard celebrating, saying, "Freddy didn't go to jail!"

In the following minutes, the footage shows protesters remaining on the sidewalk while some yell insults at the police as they walk away to watch near their patrol cars. Then, an officer points out someone in the crowd, and around ten cops begin walking toward the group. Peralta is soon thrown to the ground by two officers while protesters yell in the background.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Peralta moved to Miami three years ago from Lexington, Kentucky. A longtime activist, Peralta says he has been "involved in fighting for justice for over 30 years." He says he is concerned for his safety because of the number of times he has been arrested and the increasingly violent manner in which he has been detained. He is working with a lawyer to explore options of filing a restraining order against police.

Barnes also believes she was targeted by police, noting that she was pointed out before her arrest and later photographed at the station.

Around 15 of the regular protesters showed up to an MPD press conference yesterday morning to ask Chief Jorge Colina about the rough arrests. They were denied entry.

Although he did not directly address the videos or the arrests at the press conference, Colina vowed the department would get tougher on protesters who block public roadways.

"We want to ensure that everyone who wants to exercise their constitutional right to protest can do so safely," Colina said. "If you want to be on the sidewalk, we encourage it and appreciate it."

Both Barnes and Peralta say their experiences have only emboldened them to continue speaking out against police.

"If I didn't have a solidified reason to protest before, I do now," Barnes says. "If this is what officers do in broad daylight, what do they do behind closed doors?"

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