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News ::
FTAA-IMC Miami - November 15th, 2003
17 Nov 2003
Modified: 08:30:17 AM
The FTAA Miami Convergence Center, which the IMC is sharing space with, is located at 2300 N. Miami Blvd./23rd St NE. A chain link fence separates the protesters inside from the rest of the world, and several activists guard the entrance, give interviews, and give directions to newbies. The IMC Center is up and running, with several public and private locations to work, and with new tech and volunteers arriving everyday.
Robert and I, Boston IndyMedia volunteers, had a hassle-free plane flight. We were up by 7am, arrived early at the airport, checked our baggage, hauled our carry-on's to the airplane, and had a relatively
pleasant flight. There is something exceptionally amusing about watching the in-flight TV shows (morning news, sitcoms, et all) without headphones.

We landed in Miami mid-afternoon, caught a ride with my roommate's father (in his teeny tiny 2-seater Mazda Miata), and unloaded our stuff at his *safe* location - out of the city, near touristy "Coconut Grove", Miami.

Early evening, we contacted the IMC Center, asked for directions from public transit, and set off for our first of many IMC Meetings.

The Convergence Welcome Center, which the IMC is sharing space with, is located at 2300 N. Miami Blvd./23rd St NE. It is a large building constructed of cinderblocks and plasterboard, with an enormous amount of bare cement floor space and several small
partitioned rooms joining around the IMC space. A chain link fence separates the protesters inside from the rest of the world, and several activists guard the entrance and give directions to newbies.

Rob and I arrived in time to sit through a General Meeting, where we discussed topics such as space allocation, press passes, public/private space usage, and special projects, among others. We learned that the FTAA-IMC has already hosted a high-school tour of our facilities and info-session (where they showed local students how to use the newswire "publish" option to write and post news articles online) covered some pre-protest rallies, and worked on streamlining
IMC spaces.

There were police everywhere. We asked our taxi-driver on the way home:
"Is this a bad neighborhood? Why are there so many police?"

To which he responded:
"It is the ALCA (FTAA in Spanish)). They are preparing for the ALCA. They are practicing for the end of the week, when all the people will come!"

While we were at the IMC Center, we heard more about the police. According to the IMCsters who have been in Miami for the past few weeks, the police will create "lock-down" areas, cordoning off entire city blocks, when they perceive "activism" at work. The new "parade ordinance" passed by the City of Miami, has granted the police broad new classifications of what is legal and illegal for public gatherings.

Among these new, Constitutionally questionable laws are limits such as: 7 or more pedestrians in the street can constitute an "illegal" parade, 8 persons gathering in a public space can be considered an illegal "assembly", protester signs/banners can only
be made out of cloth, paper and flexible or cardboard materials, no lengths of wood or hard plastic can be used to support signs/banners unless they are less than 1/8"*3/4" and plastic only. Posession of any type of glass bottle/jar/container, unless it contains medicine, is illegal. We have also been told that the local police are a law unto themselves - they are on the defensive and want as little trouble as possible.

While we were talking with the various Projects in the IMC space, we heard rumor that there was "another lockdown". Robert and I had seen 2 "lockdown's" in the time that it took for us to walk
from public transit to the Convergence Center. This "lockdown" had blocked all but one street leading to and from the Convergence Center. After several minutes, as IMCers continued to scramble around, networking computers, proof-reading and editing, organizing for the various tasks at hand, the police left as mysteriously as they had arrived, leaving a feeling of uncertainty. What were they, us, anyone, doing?!

After learning the time of the next IMC meeting, Sunday morning, (tomorrow morning!) at 9am, Robert and I retired to public transportation, returned to the Coconut Grove, typed this message, and... passed out?


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