A wave of protests against police in the nation’s largest cities brought out demonstrators in Miami on Saturday, with more mass events planned for Sunday in South Florida.
During Saturday night protests in Miami, police used tear gas and rubber bullets on marchers. At least one police car was burned and dozens arrested.
The demonstrations began after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed black man who died on May 25 after a Minneapolis policeman drove a knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while the man was face down on the ground.
On Sunday, the effects of overnight demonstrations were still being assessed even as more protests were planned for the afternoon in downtown Miami and in Broward County.
Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat representing southeastern Broward County, said the wave of demonstrations represent “a boiling point for black America” unlike past events where the killing of unarmed black men by police have resulted in protests.
“I don’t think this is going to go away,” Jones said. “We are here. We’re in it. The black community is tired. We’re tired of talking. Everyone has been saying, let’s come to the table but it hasn’t resulted in anything.”
Follow the Miami Herald’s live blog for updates on the latest developments in South Florida.
IMMIGRATION AGENTS TO MONITOR PROTESTS
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were dispatched to protests in Miami-Dade and Broward Sunday, federal immigration sources told the Miami Herald.
The presence of federal immigration officers and agents comes hours after peaceful protests turned violent Saturday night in Miami.
In a statement, the agency acknowledged that federal officers were sent to cities nationwide to support local and state law enforcement, but declined to disclose which areas.
Customs and Border Protection “is currently deploying officers, agents and aviation assets across the country at the request of our federal, state and local partners confronting the lawless actions of rioters,” said CBP spokesman Rob Brisley. “CBP carries out its mission nationwide, not just at the border, consistent with federal laws and policies.”
The agency would not comment on whether officers would be checking people’s immigration status.
CBP agents, according to federal law, don’t need a warrant to operate “within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States.”
The law defines a “reasonable distance” as 100 air miles from a coastal border — which covers the entire state of Florida.
“While most Border Patrol work is conducted in the immediate border area, agents have broad law enforcement authority and are not limited to a specific geography within the United States,” CBP has told the Herald. “They have the authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence.”
When CBP encounters someone without proof of legal status — such as a green card or visa paperwork, as required by federal law — the person is immediately detained and temporarily held in CBP custody before being transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Enforcement Removal Operations.
— By Monique O. Madan
PROTEST IN DOWNTOWN MIAMI
On Sunday afternoon, about a hundred people, including some families pushing babies in strollers, showed up at the Torch of Friendship in downtown Miami, just a few steps away from the Bayfront Marketplace stores that were looted Saturday night.
The demonstration was organized in part by Muslim organizations in South Florida, including the ICNA Council for Social Justice. Some protesters, who held up signs that read “Muslims 4 Floyd” and “Black Lives Matter,” were drawn to the demonstrations after seeing images of Saturday’s massive protests.
Jose Eduardo Vanegas Jr., 21, said he drove two hours on Sunday morning from Clewiston, Florida, a small town near Lake Okeechobee.
“I heard about yesterday,” said Vanegas, adding that he was joining today’s protests demanding justice for George Floyd. “Until we’re tired, until we’re dehydrated, we’re going to fight.“
“The same thing is happening in small towns,” Vanegas added. “I mean, in the city of course there’s a lot more people, but in the small towns, it happens a lot and that’s what people aren’t seeing.”
Representatives from a number of activist organizations, including the Dream Defenders, which advocates for ending prisons and policing, spoke in front of the growing crowd of protesters, demanding police accountability.
Mohammad Asad, board member of ICNA Council for Social Justice, said the organization was also part of Saturday’s protests before demonstrators clashed with police downtown.
“I don’t know what happened after everybody dispersed, I think some of the things went out of hand in some of the groups. That is sad,” said Asad.
He added that Muslim groups have felt targeted by police in their communities since the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York and feel compeled to protest against the suffering of black Americans.
“After 9/11 we did suffer … and realized what was going on. We need to stand up against whatever injustice with anybody,” Asad said. “This is not a one time thing we have to stand up and we need to stay on top of it.”
Activists also called for protesters to join a march to the American Airlines Arena from the Torch of Friendship once the protest’s program ended.
At the arena, hundreds of demonstrators gathered as activists read out the black persons killed in incidents of police brutality.
“We are here because we are angry, we are here because we are mourning,” one organizer said through a megaphone. “Keep in mind police are not our friends… So what we’re going to do is we’re going to march.”
“But keep it keel y’all, we don’t want anybody going to jail where COVID” is affecting prisoners, the speaker said.
— Bianca Padró Ocasio
BEACH OPENING CANCELED
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez canceled the planned reopening of local beaches on Monday morning — delaying one of the most anticipated milestones in the unwinding of emergency measures imposed in March to fight the spread of coronavirus.
Gimenez said the beaches would remain closed until he lifts a countywide curfew, which begins at 9 p.m. on Sunday.
The mayor’s announcement preserves the planned reopening of community pools and the lifting of booking restrictions on hotels, both set for Monday.
The planned June 1 reopening of the coast in South Beach and beyond was designed to be the kick-off to reviving the county’s tourism industry and give residents back a favorite diversion after 10 weeks of closure under COVID-19 orders.
On WPLG-Channel 10’s Sunday morning show, “This Week in South Florida,” he said that moment could come soon and beaches “hopefully can open on Tuesday.”
— By Douglas Hanks
BROWARD DEMONSTRATION PLANNED
A protest against police brutality planned in Lauderhill for Sunday afternoon will go forward at a different location, organizers said, after city attempts to reschedule over perceived safety concerns and fears of overcrowding.
“They don’t have the power to cancel something that is our basic human right,” said Tifanny Burks, co-organizer of the event and an activist with Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward. “They don’t have the authority to do that.”
The protest was moved to Huizenga Park, 32 East Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, from 3 to 6 p.m., organizers said.
The demonstration had originally been planned in coordination with the city to take place at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. But late Saturday the city said in a statement that “in an effort to… produce a safe and secure event, the City of Lauderhill felt it was in the best interest of attendees and the surrounding community to work with the organizers to postpone the event.”
Mayor Ken Thurston said the city had expected 200 people to attend, but learned from social media that the crowd might swell to over 1,000. Thurston said he had hoped to reschedule for next weekend when the city could secure more space and backup from the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
“All we want to do is protect the public, protect the protestors,” he said. “We have been cooperative. It is just not possible to proceed today in a safe fashion.”
Organizers called the city’s message misleading and said they never agreed to cancel.
In a Sunday morning tweet, Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward said: “Just to be clear, our protest is still on and active! We stand together in solidarity not just to make a statement but so we know that we are here for each other. We stand together for the lives lost, our children, ourselves and our right to justice.”
Shevrin Jones, a Democratic state representative from Broward involved in organizing the protest, said the city now plans to barricade the area where people had planned to meet, after originally agreeing to set up a stage and portable bathrooms.
“They said they don’t have the resources to take care of it,” Jones said. “I said to the city that it is in the best interest that we find a way to still allow them to express themselves. Shutting it down completely will cause a huge problem.”
Organizers said they expect Sunday’s protest in to be peaceful. The BLM Alliance said it trained 80 volunteers in de-escalation techniques in preparation for the protest.
— By Sarah Blaskey and Nicholas Nehamas
WHERE DID AGITATORS COME FROM?
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Saturday night that “professional agitators” had incited Saturday night’s violence.
Police arrested 57 people overnight. But only “a small portion” had out-of-state home addresses, said Juan Diasgranados, public affairs manager for Miami-Dade Corrections.
Most of those arrested face charges of violating Miami-Dade’s 10 p.m. curfew, he said.
No deaths have been reported. Kiara Delva, a spokeswoman for Miami police, said in an email that police officers were injured as the protest turned from peaceful to hostile. She said police were compelled to use tear gas and rubber bullets against the crowds.
“Subsequently, officers were forced to take the necessary action to disperse the crowd,” she said.
A total of 17 squad cars were damaged in Saturday night’s protests. “Damages ranged from punctured tires to burning of vehicles,” she said.
— By Daniel Chang