More Miami madness… "snatch squads"

Just found this in my email inbox…

Laura Raymond, NLG Student Organizer, has just sent this update from Miami:

I can’t emphasis how crazy we all feel this is. People who have been doing legal support for mass demonstrations for years and years–even R2K legal folks who have dealt with Timoney before–are amazed at how unprecedented and overwhelming it is.

The unusual thing is that there are no mass arrests! Arrests are mostly being made of small groups or individuals for seemingly nothing. Random people are being pulled behind police lines that may be 3 rows thick and legal observers can’t access them for names and descriptions, nor can medics access people who are hurt in the process. Also undercovers are snatching random people in the crowds and pulling them away. A huge thing is the tactic of unmarked “snatch squads” patrolling the city and grabbing people off the streets. We have 3 Legal Observer’s that have been picked off thisway in separate incidents, and for these we have we have witnesses reporting that the LO’s were beaten by the police. It is really eery and frightening.

Many arrest reports we receive include brutality, beatings and such–tasors,wooden and rubber bullets, many cops beating one person, concussion grenades,electrical shields, etc.–so it seems as though arrest numbers are down but the intensity of the arrest and the complexity of defending all these cases is high. This seems like a good media tactic on the part of the police-the small arrest numbers won’t put the actions in much mainstream media.

Legal Observers and defense and support people are overwhelmed and we have a lot on our plate. We have a big problem coming up as many of us are leaving this weekend and we will have alot of unresolved legal issues remaining. Plus the precedent all these new tactics set-especially this quote in our press release that this is being referred to by city officials as a “blueprint for homeland security.”

As is the case with nearly everyone here, I got 45 minutes of sleep last night and 2 hours the night before. We are so maxed out but we just cannot stop. I am going to be careful and try to not get arrested but if I do they know to call you.

Laura Raymond

November 21, 2003

-Thomas Leavitt