Milagros “Milly” Herrera, a candidate for the Hialeah City Council, was arrested by Hialeah police Wednesday as she was passing out her campaign fliers to residents of a city-owned apartment complex for seniors, police said.
Herrera, 58, had the city’s permission to speak to residents from 2-3 p.m. in the dining room of Villa Aida on West Sixth Street, across the street from City Hall, according to an arrest affidavit. She left the dining room and stood outside to distribute her fliers, but the property superintendent told her she couldn’t solicit there.
City policy states that commercial solicitation and door-to-door solicitation of any kind are prohibited on city-owned residences for seniors. Political speech is limited, but candidates are entitled to one visit at each location before the primary and general election and they must register with the city clerk with a date, time and place.
The policy states that if a solicitor refuses to leave the property, supervisors are to contact the Hialeah Police Department.
Hialeah Police Commander Yan Perez responded to the scene after the property superintendent complained that Herrera would not leave the complex.
Perez said after Herrera spoke to residents, he introduced himself and explained why she was not allowed to solicit at the complex, then told her that she would be arrested for trespassing if she refused to leave.
Perez said he asked for her ID to document the incident, and she refused, so he arrested her at about 2:15 p.m.
Herrera pulled her arms away, slapped Perez’s hand away from her and told him not to touch her, according to the incident report. Another officer helped handcuff her.
Herrera later told the Miami Herald that she tried to call the city clerk to prove that she had permission to pass out fliers when police approached her. She said that as she unlocked her phone, Perez pushed her left hand and grabbed her phone out of her right. She said it all happened within the span of two minutes.
“I didn’t have any time to resist anything,” she said.
Herrera said the city clerk called her Wednesday morning looking to reschedule at Villa Aida because of construction. She said she was not willing to reschedule because she had already taken time off work. She said the city clerk then decided to allow it.
She said the property superintendent took her to the dining room where it was dark, closed and under construction. Herrera then said that she walked around with the property superintendent, who prevented her from talking to residents. She said she strayed about 10 feet away from the property superintendent to distribute her fliers by the driveway during the remainder of her time.
“I was not going to allow my rights to be taken away,” she said.
Herrera said the city has been unfair and disorganized in dealing with solicitation on its property, including last-minute schedule changes and favoritism in where city employees put different candidates’ signs. Several other candidates told the Herald they’d experienced similar issues.
“They’re sabotaging the ability for the candidates to go to these centers, it’s complete sabotage,” Herrera said.
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez said the only thing he knows is the rules and that everyone gets an appointment to do their presentation.
“Nobody is above the law here,” he said. “Most of the candidates are doing it the correct way.”
Herrera was booked on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and resisting an officer without violence, according to an arrest affidavit. She said she was released on a $2,000 bond Wednesday night.