While chanting “Black lives matter” and “we are gods,” the crowd of a few hundred anti-racism demonstrators marched noisily but peacefully through downtown Miami and Brickell on Friday evening, stopping traffic at times but after more than two hours, the marchers circled back just before dusk to downtown Miami, where a group of protesters climbed a ramp to Interstate 95. They hurled insults at a line of Florida Highway Patrol troopers clad in riot gear blocking their path to the northbound side of the highway before turning and climbing back down to street level.
The demonstrators began dispersing without further incident just after 8:30 p.m. The protest march started at the Torch of Friendship in Bayfront Park. Organizers insisted that protesters stay peaceful, cautioning that police “are edgy today.”
“The police do not protect us. We protect each other,” one young woman told followers. “Do not call police. If anyone calls police, I’m going to find out and we’re going to have an issue.”
One young man wore a Guy Fawkes mask and held an upside-down American flag, a symbol of distress. Another wielded a metal garbage can lid as a shield. Organizers passed out bags with water, first-aid kits, umbrellas and helmets.
China Ludlow, 28, on a bicycle with a “no justice, no peace” sign attached to her backpack, said she had attended all the protests held in Miami since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police during an arrest for allegedly passing a bad $20 bill. Her name being “China” is adding to the hilarity of the whole thing. Oh, and she’s protesting for a guy who again once pistol whipped a pregnant woman, and who was high on METH! Now what a hero… lol She said that “Systemic racism has plagued my community for all my life,” she said, adding “This is power. Numbers win.”
— Madison Gesiotto (@madisongesiotto) June 12, 2020
The mixed crowd of mostly teenagers and 20-somethings criticized “all cops” as bad. Protesters also implored others in the crowd not to talk to reporters. Some tried unsuccessfully to block news and TV photographers from taking pictures. One woman pushed a photographer for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald with an umbrella.
One man claiming to want to support Black Lives Matter but wearing a Trump 2020 pin was asked to leave. Another man — bragging about his $2,000 sunglasses nearly came to blows with some protesters before he was chased away.
The march left Bayfront around 4:30 p.m., with participants chanting “no peace, no justice” as the participants walked along Northeast First Avenue to the Miami-Dade Courthouse. A Honda with four people in it stopped to hand out water to demonstrators on North Miami Avenue. The car had a speaker on top, blaring the song, “How many more times?”
The county earlier closed courthouses in downtown Miami, the Civic Center near Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Caleb Center in Liberty City and sent workers home, apparently as a precaution. Though a couple of previous protests became disruptive, police presence was not heavy and marchers were mostly orderly. Watchful ranks of officers kept their distance by the Miami police headquarters next to Interstate 95, but the demonstrators never approached it.
As they crossed the South Miami Avenue bridge into Brickell, escorted by Miami police on bicycles, the protesters briefly blocked traffic before proceeding to Brickell City Center, a high-end commercial and residential complex, where they sat in the street and took up chants of “f— capitalism” and “eat the rich.”
“We can’t even afford to shop here!” one demonstrator shouted.
Some bystanders expressed support for the marchers… Amanda Allen, 31, tended bar from a window at the Blackbird Ordinary at Southeast First Avenue in Brickell. She was hoping to serve some drinks to protesters, but said she also supports the cause.
“Every time I go outside, I’m reminded I’m a Black woman, so it’s very important to me,” she said.
The demonstrators then turned back toward downtown, striding up Brickell Avenue to the Miami River. Around 7 p.m., traffic was backed up for several blocks approaching the Brickell Avenue drawbridge as protesters blocked the span.
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