Security for the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit in Miami last fall will cost taxpayers at least $23.9 million — about $1.4 million more than anticipated, says the Miami Herald. The federal government will reimburse up to $8.5 million of that amount. Police and county administrators defend the costs, saying they had to prepare for the worst. “A lot of the cost you’re looking at was to have a [police] presence there to make sure we were prepared,” said County Manager George Burgess. Business leaders say the cost was worth it because it will improve Miami’s shot at securing the FTAA headquarters. Demonstrators in the smaller-than-expected crowds say it was an expensive assault on free speech.
While two civilian panels search for the truth, protesters are lining up to sue. More litigation costs are coming.
There was almost no damage to businesses downtown, compared with $3 million in damage to Seattle’s downtown in similar demonstrations in 1999. Miami police arrested 234 people, compared with about 1,300 people in similar protests in Washington, D.C., in 2002 and about 600 in Seattle. Predictions for the Miami summit put crowds at between 20,000 and 100,000. Only about 10,000 people showed up to demonstrate in Miami, compared with 50,000 in Seattle.