Miami Dispatch: 11/17

Homeless in Miami

| November 2003

MIAMI -- Lola is cooking me eggs when I get a frantic call at 7:40 in the morning from Stephan of Citizen's Trade Watch, "The meeting is early, come down here now!" I scramble to send off my update, dress, and pack for the day's events, while Juniper and Lisa and Gloria do the same. We pile into the car. Lola hands me a sandwich of eggs on toast, and we drive quickly to the campground, only to find that the police have closed the downtown exits already in anticipation of the FTAA actions and traffic is snarled. We get there eventually and find a whole lot of various officials standing around, in the way officials stand around at the scene of a crime or disaster. There are assistant county managers and city managers and lawyers and all of us introducing ourselves and trying to have conversations and being called on our cell phones, and it is very hard to figure out what is going on. The county, it seems, is trying to help us, while the city is being obstructive. The county wants to give us shelter, a huge 27.000 foot tent, but the city will not issue the necessary permit to put it up. Would small tents, 10 by 10 feet, be acceptable? But then it seems the problem is whether we can use the land at all. It's under the jurisdiction of the city, but it belongs to the state, and is leased to a private agency for the homeless called Camillus House which will be building on site. Camillus House wants to let us use the land but they need an okay from the lawyers from the state. We all agree to have an 11 o'clock meeting with lawyers from all the agencies, and go off.

We decide that Juniper is the person to go to the meeting from our group, as she is an environmental engineer in her other life and gets paid to negotiate permits. We offer to pay her twice her usual fee in fairy dollars. Meanwhile, I have a short meeting about the anarchist/pagan ritual. We decide to focus on the ritual and let go of trying to plan an action for the 19th -- there's a possibility Root Cause will plan something, and we agree to support them. Ruby, Lev, Ryan, Sara and I go off downtown to join the outreach action. Because people have been being harassed by police and often detained or even arrested for passing out flyers and talking to shopkeepers, we've decided to go down in a large body and do outreach all together. By the time we get there, lots of activists are wandering up and down the downtown streets, talking to shop-owners and passersby. We join them. Cops are everywhere, circling on bikes, parked in cars on nearly every corner, stationed outside jewelry stores to prevent the anarchist thugs from carting off the diamonds, we presume.

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