PROTEST LAW HEADED TOWARD REPEAL - Mitch Perry

02/27/04

Last night in Miami, City Miami commissioners took the first step to repeal a stringent ordinance limiting what items protesters can bring to demonstrations.

The ordinance, passed just a week before November's Free Trade of the Americas talks in Miami, had been touted by police as a way to protect the public against violent protests....But it led to outrage among local demonstrators of the FTAA, who said the law was illegal because it was only targeted only at the thousands of activists who were to descend on Miami for the Trade Meetings......

Last night, City Commissioner Tomas Regalado, confessed the law would NEVER have passed if it were NOT for the FTAA....He wants his own ordinance repealed...

Lida Rodriguez-Tasseff is the President of the ACLU in Greater Miami.....(roll tape#1 o.q."were making it permanent ")

The law allows police to arrest demonstrators who carry glass bottles, water balloons, water guns, signs held up by wood sticks and five-gallon plastic buckets. Anyone holding an innocuous item such as a glass iced tea bottle or thick drum sticks would be in violation of the law and subject to arrest

The intent was to strengthen police power against the thousands of protesters who were converging in downtown for the global talks.

Miami City Commissioner Tomas Regalado, who now wants to repeal the law that was his creation, said he was worried that turmoil in Haiti and Venezuela could soon unleash massive protests here. And he worried that if the law remains on the books, it would spawn sweeping arrests.

The ACLU's Lida Rodriguez-Tasseff says that reasoning is very convenient for those City Commissioners who realize that the law was always legally precarious (roll tape#2 o.q."very own constituenties")

No protesters were charged with violating the ordinance during the FTAA talks. ...The ACLU says they are preparing within weeks to announce law suits in 2 different cases against the Miami Police Department for abuse against protestors during the meetings...

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