MIAMI, FL – A call out had been made by Occupy Atlanta, Occupy Glen Iris, and Take Back The Block to Occupy Chase Bank and, more specifically, shut them down. Occupy Miami had been at a dormant, yet turbulent, state for a period of time. Not many serious actions have been done as of late. So a mutual feeling among many current occupiers was to turn things around. This was to be one of many serious actions we’d participate in from now on, but turns out there were other forces at work here.
We had finished getting everybody in the building together and were then leaving to the rally which would take place at our old encampment spot in Government Center. We had not even passed the parking spaces in front of the building when we were suddenly stormed by a contingent of law enforcement, which ranged from militant SWAT looking officers in dark camouflage and heavy body armor with military assault rifles and tactical shotguns to standard City of Miami police officers with pistols to what looked more like agents of some kind.
Vans, trucks, cars, and even an armored Hummer were surrounding us and we all had this variety of guns aimed at us, being ordered to get on the ground. It was a very disorienting and frightening situation as I, nor most of Occupiers and other locals present, had ever had any firearm drawn on them, nevertheless firearms of military grade.
Now, the criticism could and has been made that we should not have been compliant, that we should have resisted and refused to get down; literally “stand” for our rights. Comparisons were even made to those in Bahrain and Egypt and Syria, which I felt were a bit unfair. Normally, I’d agree and suggest non-compliance and resistance of some kind. I feel like I am ready to face danger for my beliefs, but consider this; we were in front of a residential apartment building with children inside and a couple of them were actually sitting outside in the lot watching this happen. We were all very overwhelmed and did not want to test these brutes with such big weapons at the moment.
They were very aggressive and vulgar. A couple of Occupiers were practically trampled as these heavily armed officers and agents charged into the building. Requests not to be stepped on were met with “Shut the f*** up!” Our questions regarding their reasons for all this were met with “Shut the f*** up!” Guess what our requests for a warrant for the searches they began were met with… All their yells of “Shut the f*** up!” were supplemented with a rifle to the back of our heads. As enraging as it was, we all decided not to press those issues.
Everybody in front of the building who was heading to the rally was lying flat on the floor with our faces to the ground and were being searched by MPD while the agents and heavily armed officers dispersed around the building and rounded up everyone inside and searched all unlocked rooms. I tried to grab my phone to record but as I reached down I was yelled at and had guns pointed at me so I withdrew my hands. These automatic weapons were aimed at all occupiers and tenants in the building as they were rounded up against the gates. The two children outside also had these guns pointed at them as they commanded their mother to take them inside.
Our media room was locked since we were about to mobilize so the key was requested with a drawn M16. Our guy with the key knew we had nothing to hide so he gave them a tour of the whole media office.
All the Occupiers lying on the ground in front, including me, were sent to sit with the others by the gates as they aggressively rounded up and searched everyone else in the building. I managed to grab my phone and began recording under my leg to avoid any negative reactions. I took a few pictures as well. Another Occupier and I were becoming increasingly vocal and less worried. We chanted and were told nothing.
After all that, I said to hell with it and I began to record again, but this time it was done openly and I even narrated. Others had been recording as well. As I was recording, three Occupiers were being brought down one by one in zip tie handcuffs. I was allowed to continue recording until I began asking why they were in cuffs. They then came and made me put the phone away. I did not resist as I did not want to lose what I had.
Strangely enough, these three were soon let go without any charges. They finished searching everything and began leaving. The crowd erupted in applause and there were even chants of “Cops go home! Cops go home!” As we began getting up to go on with our day, the agent in charge came and told us not to go into our apartments, that he felt they owed us an explanation.
We agreed and gathered to hear him out. He began to explain this had nothing to do with the MPD and that they supported our protests as it is our First Amendment right but they had been gathering information and suspected that a small splinter group with our movement was planning to incite violence with weapons. One Occupier asked him what kind of weapons they were talking about. The agent then said, “Long guns. We’re not talking sticks or rocks or anything like that.”
We were all shocked and confused and questioned this reasoning. After this, they left but mysteriously detained 3 other Occupiers for questioning at the station though they did not cuff them.
We all decided that this should not stop anything and we commenced with our rally and march. We marched over to Government Center and began to rally right where our camp once stood. Security and county officials tried to make us get off the grass and even claimed that they had spent $14,000 on that grass, but we did not comply as they could make no real case against us here. They even went and asked a few nearby bike-mounted police officers to help remove us; the officers did nothing.
Once we felt good and ready, we began to march to a Chase Bank in the Downtown Miami area. As we arrived, we received the usual warm welcome of doors being locked. We caused a ruckus and blocked up a few doors. Police made it difficult but we were persistent and stayed for over an hour.
In this time, I received a phone call from one of our Occupiers who had been detained and was told that they had been let out. They then met us in front of Chase and began telling me everything; It was disturbing to say the least. The Occupier who called my phone is an Egyptian. He was asked if he was Muslim, which is obviously racial profiling. They also discovered that what we thought were detectives back at our safe-house were actually FBI and the storm-troopers with military weapons were an “Intelligence and Terrorism Unit.” There was other info disclosed which we cannot release for safety reasons.
So now a lot has been left unclear. Who were these people really? What were their true reasons for raiding us with such force? Why did they refuse to show us a warrant? Is this the NDAA in action? I guess that remains to be seen. They warned the detained Occupiers that they’d be back. Our Egyptian brother then warned them that the whole world would find out about this and that this would be viral through the internet.
The agent-in-charge responded, “Please don’t…”
We feel that they wish for us to be afraid and stop. We will not comply with that. Tomorrow (M15) is Bank of America Move-In Day and we will attend, once again, beginning with a rally at our old home in Gov Center. We will also be celebrating 6 months of the Occupy Movement on Saturday (M17), which will begin with a rally at Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Law enforcement knows where to find us, but we are not worried. Every time they make one of these over-the-top moves, it counts against them; they should have learned by now.
We are the 99 percent and we shall overcome.
This is what a police state looks like
Video of the militarized raid of Occupy Miami