Miami-Dade County

Planned Shut it Down traffic disruption in downtown Miami fizzles

Chaunce O’Connor holds up his sign during Friday evening’s protests.
Chaunce O’Connor holds up his sign during Friday evening’s protests.

Friday night’s Shut it Down protest shut nothing down.

Miami police expected as many as 200 people to gather Friday evening at the Torch of Friendship in downtown Miami in protest of the Ferguson, Mo., verdict and the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Israel “Reefa” Hernandez in Miami Beach, but only about two dozen showed up. Police had warned drivers of possible delays, but traffic was no worse than on any other Friday evening.

Protesters stood around the Torch of Friendship holding up signs that read “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “Black lives matter” and “White silence = white consent.” They stood in front of the steel barricades police set up around the torch and chanted “We want justice.”

Members of the Miami chapter of Anonymous, a community of activists known for hacking government, religious and corporate websites, said they were there in protest of the death of Delbert “Demz” Rodriguez, who was struck by a police car in Wynwood during Miami Art Week.

Hipolito Arriaga, 30, served two tours in Iraq as a United States Marine and was protesting for the personal injustices he feels he’s experienced.

“I saw a lot of horrible things over there and I did a lot of horrible things over there in the name of freedom,” he said.

He held an American flag upside-down during the protest. Inside the white stripes, he wrote his enlistment oath with the hashtags #ICantBreathe and #SemperFidelis. Arriaga said he went to the protest for himself and for everyone who has experienced any type of injustice.

“I grew up in the South Bronx, so I’m no stranger to police brutality,” Arriaga said. “I’m here for the injustices I’ve experienced personally and for the people who have died as a result of police brutality.”

Chaunce O’Connor, 32, showed up to the protest in a wheelchair with a broken fibula. He waved his signs for drivers along Biscayne Boulevard to see.

“It’s not what you have. It’s what you do with what you have,” O’Connor said. “I’m here because I care.”

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