Downtown Miami

Small groups continue ‘Shut It Down’ protests in Miami over weekend

jsalo@miamiherald.com

Protesters organized by Fountain of New Life church in Miami Gardens reach out to passersby near the Freedom Tower on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014.
Protesters organized by Fountain of New Life church in Miami Gardens reach out to passersby near the Freedom Tower on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Miami Herald

No roads were shut down by the “Shut It Down” protest Saturday morning in Miami.

Police had advised drivers that downtown traffic this weekend might again be disrupted by protests calling for justice in police-involved deaths — specifically, those of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York and Israel “Reefa” Hernandez in Miami Beach. But traffic moved as usual at both of the demonstrations scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Previous demonstrations, involving hundreds of people, had crippled the region for hours.

On Saturday morning, a smaller group of about two dozen protesters gathered outside the Freedom Tower on Biscayne Boulevard to share their message with passing commuters.

The demonstration, which was organized by Fountain of New Life church in Miami Gardens, briefly made its way over to AmericanAirlines Arena, but protesters stayed on the sidewalk and abided by traffic signals. During the two-hour protest, the group chanted “No justice, no peace” and held up signs for commuters to see.

Fountain of New Life Pastor Wayne Lomax said the protest was organized on social media. Facebook event postings also brought about the four other South Florida protests, all spearheaded by different organizations.

“We wanted to have a peaceful protest in solidarity with the cause against police brutality,” Lomax said.

Lomax said they were protesting not only recent events but years of injustice and police brutality towards minorities.

“It is a long list of African Americans who have been killed by police officers unnecessarily,” Lomax said.

Hallandale Beach resident Marlene Bryan said she was there protesting with her 23-year-old son, Tyree, in mind.

“He's a young black male, and even though he is doing all of the right things in his life, like many other young black men, he could be perceived as dangerous,” said Bryan, who is a congregant at Fountain of New Life.

Bryan, 50, says it is her hope that protests will lead to different police training methods.

“Their training needs to be enhanced to be sensitive to the communities they serve,” Bryan said.

While most of the protesters were from Fountain of New Life, some learned of the protests on social media. Miami Beach resident Andrew, who declined to give his last name, said he found out about the protests on Instagram and decided to drop by.

“I wanted to show people that I am listening as well,” he said.

Before the group dispersed, Lomax told them that the next step would be planning a forum to discuss ways to work with law enforcement for change.

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