Occupy Miami protesters say they have been highlighting, not perpetuating homelessness
Five members of Occupy Miami said Tuesday night that despite last week’s eviction and arrests the movement will continue to meet and move forward with a campaign to support homeowners who have been evicted.
Alfredo Quintana, a Cuban-American and a small business owner, said that Miami is one of the least politically active and civically engaged cities in the United States, adding that civic engagement is a way to keep a “check on government” and that “Occupy Miami is that space for civic engagement.”
Isis Miller, also a member of Occupy Miami, said that the Occupy camp located on government land in downtown Miami did not generate violence.
“It is hard to occupy for social justice that has been denied,” Miller said, adding that incorrect “media soundbites” of violence and safety problems, as well as homelessness, were used to justify last week’s eviction, which ended with six arrests. “We did not bring issues of drug abuse, violence — we highlighted what was already there,” Miller said.
Occupy Miami’s Don Carter, a Navy veteran and a Miami-Dade College student, said that Miami residents need to see that people were physically forced out by police, with one member charged with a felony for inciting a riot.
Quintana said Occupy Miami “created a home for people who haven’t had a home in several years,” and that the eviction by police was a misuse of taxpayer money, adding that Miami-Dade police officers have seen their salaries cut during this recession.
Steffany Garcia, an Occupy Miami member and a mother, said she got involved in October after her family lost about 70 percent of its income after losing jobs.
“We had to choose between a gallon of milk and a gallon of gas,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the camp was not the movement, announcing that the group will hold a general assembly this Saturday at the Torch of Friendship, where the movement started to “discuss upcoming events” in February, March and May. She explained the movement is nonpartisan and non-electoral, but works to get elected officials to do their jobs.
Occupy Miami member Kevin Young said he comes from a conservative Republican home and that the future of the movement that seeks “to break political barriers” is up to the people of Miami. “The bank doesn’t ask if you’re a Democrat or Republican when they come for your home,” he said.
Young said the group will continue moving forward with an ongoing campaign to support homeowners and stop foreclosures.
Occupy members who spoke Monday night also counted among their accomplishments community involvement, changing the conversation of wage inequality and economic justice, and an important presence on Internet social media.
Garcia, Miller and Quintana said that Occupy Miami will soon release a list of grievances, adding that they agree with some of the proposals drafted in January that were handed to House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, on the first day of the Florida legislative session.