#ALERT: "County, Police Broke Law by Blocking Residents From Government Center, Attorneys Say..."

Miami New Times: "County, Police Broke Law by Blocking Residents From Government Center, Attorneys Say"

Mayor Gimenez

USES FORCE to restrict

our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to protest...

On Friday, the morning after Mayor Carlos Gimenez kowtowed to Donald Trump's demand that Miami stop protecting undocumented immigrants, a crowd descended on County Hall to protest

That's a pretty normal occurrence in America, where residents have the right to tell their elected leaders they're wrong.

What the crowd found at County Hall that morning was far from normal, though: The public building was on virtual lockdown. 

Police had cordoned off streets for blocks — even shuttering the nearby Metromover stop — and wouldn't allow anyone to enter. Even U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison was briefly detained outside the locked doors.

To the protesters, it seemed a huge overreaction to a relatively small, peaceful crowd. 


In fact, the extreme lockdown of a public facility was an unconstitutional breach of the First Amendment, says a group of local attorneys in a letter sent to the county mayor and other officials.

Gimenez's spokesman didn't immediately reply to a request for comment on the letter, which was also addressed to Miami-Dade Police Department chief Juan Perez and county attorneys.


It's still not clear who ordered the lockdown. Gimenez was out of town on Friday, leaving his spokesperson to answer questions about his order to end Miami's sanctuary city program.

A few dozen residents and activists showed up at County Hall around 1:30 p.m. on Friday with a letter for Gimenez. They were joined by Ellison, the Minnesota rep and national chair of the Democratic Progressive Caucus. But police wouldn't let any of them enter County Hall. That move crossed the line of violating free speech, the attorneys argue.

"Miami-Dade officials made the preemptive decision to barricade doors and refuse entrance to those gathered solely based on the content of their speech," write the attorneys, who note that other residents who weren't protesting were allowed inside during the lockdown. "This decision, which was renewed and reinforced for over three hours, constitutes an illegal prior restraint of speech.”

"Those gathered were told Government Center was private property (it is not), that the building was closed to all (it was not), and that they could not enter because they would be disruptive — an assertion that was inconsistent with the peaceful behavior of those gathered there," they write.

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