The first major protest against the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit went off without a hitch in Broward County, Fla., yesterday, the Miami Herald reports. About 140 protesters peacefully started a 34-mile, three day march from Oakland Park to Miami, a mile for every nation participating in the FTAA negotiations. Protesters include labor unions, migrant farmers, and anarchists who say free trade enriches businesses and impoverishes individuals.
Miami police and other law enforcement agencies said there were no FTAA-related arrests. “It’s been a quiet day, uneventful,” said Herminia Salas-Jacobson, a Miami police spokeswoman. Many protests are planned in the coming week. Several storefronts — including a Bank of America branch — are boarded up. Police on horseback and bicycles circulated through downtown.
Protesters painted banners and built puppets for rallies later in the week. One depicted Miami Police Chief John Timoney wielding a club, another showed a migrant worker dressed like the Statue of Liberty. The anti-globalization protesters discussed the Saturday arrests of five people charged with “obstruction of free passage on sidewalks.” Some of those arrested denounced the Miami police department’s decision to invoke a rarely-enforced city ordinance to make the arrests. “It was shameful for the city of Miami. We were walking down the sidewalk,” said Henry Harris, a legal observer who was among the five arrested. “But if you look a certain way, that is blocking the sidewalk.”