About 50 people who rallied Sunday afternoon in downtown Miami had a message for the people of Ferguson, Missouri: “We stand with you.”
The peaceful rally in front of the Torch of Friendship was organized by six local organizations to show solidarity with Ferguson, where Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, was shot and killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9.
Brown’s shooting led to nightly protests and ignited racial tensions in the St. Louis suburb.
Kaan Ocbe, an organizer, said what happened to Brown “is a story seen all over the country,” and locally people wanted to stand up against police brutality.
“This needs to be a mass movement,” he said.
Organizer Cassia Laham said the militarizing of police — using tanks and other equipment to combat protesters — is wrong.
“They are treating protesters as enemy combatants,” she said as she held up a lime-green sign at the torch, near Bayside Marketplace and Bayfront Park.
Laham, who is with POWIR — People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism and Racism — said the protest also decried the escalating violence in the Middle East.
The group stood on the sidewalk next to busy Biscayne Boulevard holding signs that read From Ferguson to Gaza Resist Occupation, Justice 4 Mike Brown and Solidarity with Ferguson and chanted “Same thing every time, being black is not a crime,” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, racist cops have gotta go.”
Several Miami police officers were monitoring from a distance as the protesters continued and drivers zooming by honked their horns.
Sunday’s rally, held in advance of Brown’s funeral on Monday, was one of several held in recent days across the United States. In Florida, a rally was held in Sarasota on Saturday and in Tampa earlier in the week.
Juanita Alvarez said as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother she can’t just sit back and “watch this injustice.”
“This is completely unjustified,” said Alvarez, who lives in Little Havana. “As long as I am able, I will be out here in support.”
Sue Metcalf of Sunrise said she joined the rally with her daughter to show the 6-year-old that “she needs to have a voice.”
“I want her to grow up knowing that it’s OK to stand up for what you believe in.”