Downtown Miami resembles a ghost town as the city waits for demonstrators at ongoing international trade talks. There was no violence, but police made five arrests and confiscated four gas masks yesterday, the Miami Herald reports.
Much of the expected demonstration area “seemed surreal” yesterday, the Herald said, “streets nearly devoid of traffic, shop owners anxious, tourists replaced by police officers on foot, horseback and bicycle.”
Negotiators from 34 nations are in the area until Friday. Outside a hotel, three people near a bag containing the gas masks denied knowledge of them. Police also spotted street hockey masks in a van belonging to one of the three. “It’s kind of odd that you find people from out of town coming down here with street hockey masks,” said Miami police Lt. David Magnusson.
Two people who police said were pulling on a fence that surrounds the main site of the talks were charged with disorderly conduct.
A coalition of activist organizations criticized the “heavy-handed” tactics of police. Protesters complained that police were searching their backpacks and pockets. A three-day, 34-mile march by about 140 opponents of the negotiations that began Sunday in Fort Lauderdale is expected to reach Miami today. And a dozen activists stripped to their underwear outside a Gap store in Miami Beach to protest what they claimed were the company’s exploitative labor practices. “We’d rather wear nothing than wear Gap!” they chanted.