Dream Defenders march in ‘hands-up’ rally
Eight arrested at peaceful rally in Downtown Miami
Ashley Montgomery | 8/21/2014, noon
“Hands up, Don’t shoot,” is the chant being heard around the globe following the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo., and Israel “Reefa” Hernandez, an unarmed Hispanic male who was tasered to death by Miami Beach police officers and others around the country that occurred in the last month alone.
Phillip Agnew, director of the Dream Defenders, a civil rights group, led at least 50 young activists from Miami Dade College Wolfson campus into the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building. Once inside, with their hands up in a surrendered position, the group demanded to speak with U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. Ferrer represents the Southern District Florida.
“The police have waged war on our communities,” Agnew said in a statement. “The lack of justice for Israel Hernandez and others who have fallen at the hands of police are proof that racist police departments around the country will continue to use Black and brown bodies for target practice.”
Miami has an extensive history of racially-charged police shootings. Tension has been brewing as far back as the ’80s after Black men, like Travis McNeil, were shot and killed by police officers.
“It is time for the federal government to reign in the Miami Beach Police Department, the Ferguson Police Department, and other bigoted departments around the country with an established history of targeting and terrorizing communities of color.”
Once protestors made their way inside the Justice Building they were approached by security and asked to leave. The Dream Defenders made it clear that they were there to speak with Ferrer and a spokesperson stated that they would not leave until he came to speak with them.
An impromptu platform for speakers was quickly made for frustrations to be voiced. Many of whom became emotional and passionate.
“Just looking at the list of young men killed by police makes me sad,” Vivian Azalia, a friend of Hernandez said. “Those men could have been one of my boys, my family.”
Ferrer did not meet with the protestors, and police asked the crowd to leave as the building closed for the day.
“I am living in fear of what the future is going to be like for Black boys,” Marcia Olivo said, a mother of two boys said. “Being born Black or brown is not a crime. Our children have the right to be born and live just like anyone else.”
Olivo along with seven other protesters were arrested that Thursday afternoon during the demonstration.
The group was later released with citations, the station reported.