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Excerpt: "If a SWAT team drew down on unarmed occupiers, that would still be a horrifying, newsworthy story, but what makes the Miami event additionally alarming is that these were not squatters, but rather legal residents."

Occupy Miami protesters were raided by SWAT this week. (photo: DisneyPrincess.info)
Occupy Miami protesters were raided by SWAT this week. (photo: DisneyPrincess.info)



Occupy Miami Raided, SWAT Team Draws Weapons on Children

By Allison Kilkenny, In These Times

16 March 12

 

Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns

 

his week, I've been exploring all the different types of ways police and the District Attorney's office in New York have been monitoring, bullying, and harassing Occupiers. Of course, this civil liberties accosting is by no means isolated to the New York City area as we saw on Tuesday when dozens of police equipped with shotguns and assault rifles stormed a Miami, Florida apartment and drew their weapons on peaceful protesters and children with the local Occupy Wall Street campaign.

If a SWAT team drew down on unarmed occupiers, that would still be a horrifying, newsworthy story, but what makes the Miami event additionally alarming is that these were not squatters, but rather legal residents. (photo by Chris Mazorra)

That detail seems to have been glossed over in the media. The term "occupiers," though obviously drawing from the name of the protest group, paints an inaccurate depiction of this specific group as having been illegally occupying the apartment building. That's not the case.

Rodrigo Duque, the owner of the apartment building and Occupy protester, allowed some members of Occupy Miami to live there following the eviction of protesters from their camp on January 31.

During the raid, protesters claim police drew their weapons on children, forced a 57-year-old diabetic woman onto the ground, and allegedly harassed at least one individual, Ramy Mahmoud, during an informal interrogation.

"They are calling us terrorists, but what I saw today was demons pointing guns at us," Ramy Mahmoud adds to the account. "They terrified us."

Mahmoud claims he was asked questions such as, "Are you a Muslim?" and "Do you love this country?"

"I said hell no, I don't love this country, and it's because of shit like this," Mahmoud tells the Miami New Times.

Police say they were responding to alleged reports that residents inside were stockpiling weapons to use in an upcoming demonstration.

"They said that they had gotten a tip that we had 'long guns' and were going to use them at our protest," Occupy member Thomas Parisi tells the Miami New Times. "But we are a peaceful movement and told them that we had no intention of doing anything like that."

Police placed protesters in handcuffs initially, but later released them at the scene and no arrests were made, keeping with the national theme of the arbitrary "grab and release" strategy implemented by law enforcement in dealing with Occupy.

Like the rest of the country, Florida police have undergone a rapid militarization. Rania Khalek profiled this transformation that tends to accelerate in anticipation of political conventions like the Republican National Convention, which takes place in Tampa this year.

The Tampa City Council recently voted on using some of the $50 million in federal grants secured by the city for the 2012 Republican National Convention for a "series of police upgrades" that will include an armoured SWAT truck and a high-tech communication system.

The city council agreed to spend nearly $237,000 on a Lenco BearCat armored vehicle, which will be used in conjunction with two aging armored vehicles the city acquired through the military surplus program. Tampa Assistant Police Chief Marc Hamlin told the Tampa Bay Times that the trucks are strictly for the purpose of protecting officers from potential gunfire, not for day-to-day patrolling and crowd control.

When looking at a photo of the Lenco BearCat armoured vehicle, it's clear "aromored vehicle" is only a slightly friendlier euphemism for what this beastly monstrosity actually is: a tank.

Although the vote was unanimous, City Council Vice Chairwoman Mary Mulhern expressed alarm about the purchase. Mulhern told AlterNet, "I didn't even know that our police force had a tank and Hamlin made a convincing argument that it's been used to save a life. I would've voted no if we didn't already have one - it's chilling that the police have a tank." She fears these types of purchases could "militarize" Tampa's police force.

No evidence has emerged yet that the arrival of the RNC in the fall and the raids on Occupy are related, but it's important to monitor this kind of harassment of protesters, particularly now that SWAT teams are drawing their weapons on legal residents.

 

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+85 # RMDC 2012-03-16 18:05
This is pretty bad but it is going to get a lot worse. Police across the nation have been training with the military and they all have military weapons, vehicles, tactics. Many police are vets. The national conventions this fall will show the full militarization of US society. The US will look like a third world dictatorship.

Sometimes I wonder about the people inside of those armored suits. Do they know they are beating, spraying, shoving, or arresting other people who are their neighbors. I've seen cops cheer as other cops beat someone with a billy club. They seem to enjoy the violence. The equipment the use help create a culture of violence.
 
 
+42 # Billy Bob 2012-03-16 20:34
I have a neighbor who's one of these SWAT assholes. When he's not obsessively polishing his car, or watching tv, he's usually bragging about such things. He bragged to another neighbor about how "easy" it was to take care of the local occupy crowd.

Duh! I guess that means they were peaceful law abiding protesters. He used to do the same thing in Afghanistan, so I guess he got his training there.
 
 
+27 # John Locke 2012-03-17 07:20
Billy Bob; One of the things that alarms me is where was a warrent to search the premises? A "tip" from an unknown source is not reliable enough to get a search warrent! that would mean a false arrest and or false imprisonment action might be appropriate against the Department and the officers who took part in this "unlawful" activity...ever y time such activity takes place there should be a lawsuit to follow!
 
 
+6 # Billy Bob 2012-03-17 12:54
The only reason that doesn't happen is that their intimidation tactics are working.
 
 
+29 # bostechie 2012-03-17 04:35
Quoting RMDC:

Sometimes I wonder about the people inside of those armored suits. Do they know they are beating, spraying, shoving, or arresting other people who are their neighbors. I've seen cops cheer as other cops beat someone with a billy club. They seem to enjoy the violence. The equipment the use help create a culture of violence.


Remember the bully type in high school who's dream it was to be a cop? Well...
 
 
+27 # Street Level 2012-03-16 20:38
NDAA - And so it begins.
 
 
+28 # nice2blucky 2012-03-16 21:41
Collateral damage, ... coming to a town near you.
 
 
+36 # Archie1954 2012-03-16 21:43
What has happened in the US? Are all citizens suddenly terrorists or enemies of the state? Are all Americans wishing to exercise their Consitutional rights designated to be terroized by the American police or its militarized equivalent?
 
 
-8 # MidwestTom 2012-03-17 08:05
What happened? There is no unity of thought, religion, societal position, etc. We are a divided nation, and the Ruling class is trying to keep us together as one nation by force if necessary. The differences between Red states and Blue states continues to expand. Since we appear to fairly clearly defined by our individual state voting patterns, maybe we should stop trying to nationally force all to comply to the will of 51%, and simply leave leave most matters up to the individual states.
 
 
+15 # Okieangels 2012-03-17 09:58
Or we could make sure we all understand the Constitution...
 
 
+8 # CTPatriot 2012-03-17 11:50
Better yet, let those states that don't agree with the constitutional separation of church and state, equal rights even for gay people, etc., secede. We would have been far better off as a society had we let them go the first time.

BTW, there's no point in having a US constitution or a government to enforce its provisions if you simply let every state do whatever it wants. If we did do that, no doubt there would be some states where blacks still weren't allowed to vote, interracial marriage wasn't legal, and women were expected to stay at home and raise children rather than demand equal pay for equal work.
 
 
+2 # Glen 2012-03-17 12:00
You have a point, Midwest. At one time I considered the idea of dividing the country into provinces, as in Canada, a good one. There truly IS a lot of division and varied demands, sub-cultures, a big and growing population, regions with very separate histories and geographies, and so much else. Democracies work better with small populations who are like minded. Keeping cops under control and general policies of the government in line with population desires would be facilitated by reducing radical differences in public opinion with a smaller population.

A country as large as the U.S., with way over 300 million people will very difficult to control without force. This has been building for quite some time, but getting worse. Citizens have little power relative to the government and military and cops.
 
 
+13 # CTPatriot 2012-03-17 12:38
When you misdiagnose the problem you are guaranteed to come up with the wrong solution. The problem with our waning democracy has little to do with "radical differences in public opinion" and everything to do with the fact that our central government, the one that is supposed to represent the will of the people, has been fully captured by the corporations and the 1%.

Their representatives have worked very hard at dividing the public against itself so that we might not notice their hands in our pockets.

Dividing us into smaller provinces will not solve this any more than getting rid of the federal government will (because then the corporations will simply find ways to corrupt provincial governments as they do in the states now through ALEC.

Somehow we the people need to restore our democracy and add a constitutional amendment stating that corporations are not people.
 
 
+2 # Glen 2012-03-17 14:42
CT, regardless of the why of our differences, there are differences. Certainly we are all aware of the machinations of those associated with the federal government who organized under Reagan to divide us, but beyond that, if you consider each and every community, suburb, cities, small towns, thousands of immigrants, and on and on, you will certainly understand there are wide diversities in needs, wants, politics.

The U.S. is a huge country. If you will take note, you will see that I said, "at one time", concerning provinces. We are past that.

How do you propose we "restore our democracy"? Are you going to run for office? You and what army? Do some research on what a democratic republic is, and then post your findings.
 
 
+1 # CTPatriot 2012-03-17 21:23
Short answer: OccupyWallStree t :-)
 
 
0 # Glen 2012-03-18 15:52
Where do you go from there, CT?
 
 
+42 # tedrey 2012-03-17 03:02
"Tampa Assistant Police Chief Marc Hamlin told the Tampa Bay Times that the trucks are strictly for the purpose of protecting officers from potential gunfire."
This is blatant nonsense. In the half-year history of Occupy, are there any instances of any Occupier shooting at the police, or even pointing a gun at them? The firm committment against weapons has been absolutely stunning.
The violence is completely one-sided, and from the police.
 
 
+16 # John Locke 2012-03-17 07:22
Tedrey: agreed but keep in mind they are attempting to turn the movement violent...they have plans we aren't privy to, and I believe that includes NDAA...
 
 
+29 # Glen 2012-03-17 05:23
RMDC, folks inside those "people inside of those armored suits" are rarely concerned with any they might harass or injure. They are concerned only with what they are doing and why they are there. Folks going through the training know why they are there. Same with city officials.

These people do not care. Tampa, especially, will benefit from the convention, and they are not going to allow any "riff raff" to disrupt the event. This is nothing new, of course. Just harken back to the Chicago convention for the democrats. Today's muscle is worse. It would appear the SWAT invasion of this apartment building is rather much a practice run.
 
 
+26 # Guy 2012-03-17 05:56
Maybe democracy should be brought to the USA.As it is ,fascism is more like it.
Wake up people of the Western world.
 
 
+14 # John Locke 2012-03-17 07:25
Maybe we should complain to the UN Civil rights division and see if the United Nations will intervene as our government has been taken over by fascists and we are now a corporate dictatorship
 
 
+20 # AMLLLLL 2012-03-17 06:19
Disgraceful!

This sort of tactic is indicative of how the Government sees citizens. I had a friend, a cruiser, who was detained in Gibraltar under bogus information. At the time I could not dream that in my own country this would become commonplace.
 
 
+17 # John Locke 2012-03-17 07:32
AMLLLLL: you haven't seen anything yet...look at the History of Germany under the Nazis that is what is elevating now in the US. We have organizations and societies that are promoting this and its alumni go strait into government and Wall Street. Couple that with the soldier mentality “kill” that are going strait into police work from coming home…We are at the end time of our democracy…the reason for the militarism of local police is that they know there is going to be a revolution, and they are preparing for it
 
 
+21 # humactdoc 2012-03-17 06:58
The domestic military industrial complex inventing their need.
 
 
+11 # davidhp 2012-03-17 09:07
An another example of the move to fascist tactics to protect the corporate sponsored state.
 

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