ACLU Asks Miami Police to Compensate Protesters for Civil Rights Violations During FTAA Demonstrations

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
February 5, 2004 12:00 am

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MIAMI – In letters faxed today to City of Miami officials, the Greater Miami Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida demanded compensation for two individuals whose civil rights were violated by police during November’s Free Trade Area of the Americas ministerial meetings.

“”These innocent bystanders were swept up in a police dragnet,”” said South Florida Staff Counsel Rosalind Matos of the ACLU of Florida. “”In total disregard for their constitutional rights, Miami police officers destroyed their personal belongings and, in one case, used excessive force.””

Two separate letters sent to city and police officials by the ACLU outline instances of harassment, excessive use of force and the unconstitutional destruction of property, as follows:

  • Bryan Brown, 38, a disabled United States Veteran who lives in the Redlands, was arrested on November 20 while riding his bicycle and taking pictures of the public protests taking place in downtown Miami. Although police officers had no basis for seizing Brown’s property and no need to use force, they repeatedly shocked him with Taser guns. Officers then took his bicycle and personal belongings, including a camera that was destroyed by a Miami police officer. He was experiencing an asthma attack and pleaded with the police to give him his inhaler, which was in his backpack, but they refused.
  • David Lippman, 53, of Seattle, a freelance reporter for Free Speech Radio News, traveled to Miami to cover the demonstrations for a daily newscast that airs on 65 radio stations across the country. On November 19, police officers and FBI agents towed his pickup truck from a downtown parking lot because “there was a suspicious package involved.” He was unable to file a story all week because his computer was left inside the car, along with other belongings including a guitar and all his clothing. When the city finally returned his vehicle, two windows were smashed and several padlocks were broken off from the truck’s camper. Inside the car, all his personal belongings were strewn everywhere: his computer was outside of its case, files were scattered everywhere, shattered glass was all over the seat, his flashlight and plastic drawers were broken, and the car’s gas cap was missing.

The ACLU is demanding an immediate response from the city to avoid litigation.

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