If you think an independent FTAA Security Review Commission
should be established -- Call and tell this to both Mayors today:
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz 305.250.5300
Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas 305.375.5071

FTAA Security Review
Shouldn't Be Done By Cops

by Jim Defede, December 2, 2003

As the number of ''isolated incidents'' of alleged police misconduct grows, [ see: http://Police-State.net/FTAAmiami2003.htm ] it becomes increasingly clear that an independent commission should be appointed to review what occurred during last month's protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Miami Police Chief John Timoney has said his department ``is undertaking a comprehensive review of the entire FTAA security operation and will produce a public report of our findings.''

Timoney's pledge is inadequate for numerous reasons.

First, there were 40 different police agencies involved in providing security for the FTAA meetings in Miami, including Hialeah, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, the Broward Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Will Timoney's report discuss the conduct of Miami-Dade officers near the jail on Nov. 21 when more than 60 protesters were arrested? Of course not.

Second, according to Miami Police Lt. Bill Schwartz, the person responsible for overseeing the department's review will be Deputy Chief Frank Fernandez -- the same official responsible for overseeing Miami's preparations for the FTAA.

How can the public possibly have confidence that Chief Fernandez would bring a critical lens to the operation he was instrumental in planning?

Third, if you read Timoney's statement carefully, he states his department ''will produce a public report of our findings.'' He is not promising to release all of the information his review uncovers.

Finally, any legitimate review must also have a mechanism for collecting and hearing testimony from the public in an open forum. It should also include a detailed review of the hours and hours of television footage. Timoney's notion of a ''comprehensive review'' does not include gathering these elements. Rather, it envisions members of the department talking among themselves and with other police agencies and reviewing internal ``after-action reports.''

That's not good enough. That's a recipe for a whitewash.

Some people have suggested the review could be conducted by Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel, which is empowered to review complaints against the department. There is merit to such a suggestion, and the CIP's findings would certainly have more credibility than anything probed by Miami police.

But again, I believe last month's events are historic for South Florida and go directly to how we want to live as a people. Do we allow the police to suspend the Constitution and then pretend it didn't occur? Or do we confront these issues now and avoid their being repeated in the future?

In their zeal to do their job, many officers and commanders lost sight of the First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly, the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, and the Fifth Amendment guarantees against depriving a person of their property without due process of law.

These were not small or petty transgressions. These were not constitutional niceties overlooked for the greater good but serious violations that should scare us all.

The commission should include constitutional experts, outside members of law enforcement, downtown business owners, residents of Overtown and others.

The commission should review the conduct of everyone involved, including the protesters and the media.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of such a commission being established seems remote since politicians -- particularly Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas -- are hoping that if they ignore this issue it will just go away.

Perhaps they need a wake-up call.

If you think an independent FTAA Security Review Commission
should be established -- Call and tell this to both Mayors today:
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz 305.250.5300
Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas 305.375.5071

Source: http://www.miami.com

Related Articles and Photographs:

Photographs And Articles Of Police Brutality At FTTA In Miami
(November 18-20, 2003)

Organizations Against Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

Fragments Of The Future: The FTAA In Miami

The War on Dissent - Heavy-handed Police and
Propaganda Tactics Brought Baghdad to Miami
by Naomi Klein

Police Broke Protest Promise
Miami Police Did Not Abide by an Agreement to Allow
25 Busloads of Seniors Access to The Anti-free-trade Rally

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