Dozens of cops equipped with shotguns and assault rifles stormed a Miami, Florida apartment building on Tuesday, drawing weapons at peaceful protesters and children with the local Occupy Wall Street campaign that were lawfully residing inside.
Members of Occupy Miami moved into an Overtown safehouse last month after their previous encampment outside of the city’s Government Center was shut down by authorities earlier this year. Now for the second time in only six weeks, cops donned in SWAT-team style gear and brandishing weapons swarmed the residence of several occupiers again, allegedly acting on reports that the residents inside were stockpiling weapons to use in an upcoming demonstration.
“They said that they had gotten a tip that we had 'long guns' and were going to use them at our protest," Occupy member Thomas Parisi tells the Miami New Times. "But we are a peaceful movement and told them that we had no intention of doing anything like that."
Following the shut-down of the outdoor Occupy Miami encampment on January 31, some members of the group began living in an apartment building owned by a fellow protester. Rodrigo Duque, who now calls himself Señor Paz — or “Mister Peace” — told the Miami New Times last month that he opened the doors of his building to those who were evicted from the outdoor demonstration and told the paper, “Basically, all peaceful people are welcome."
Dozens of occupiers residing inside were not expecting to welcome in members of local law enforcement on Tuesday, however, who are reported to have busted into the building with guns brandished without warning.
"They were pointing guns at children!" Ramy Mahmoud, a member of Occupy Miami, adds to the paper.
Other Occupy Miami members that gave quotes to the paper without attribution say at least six cop cars stopped outside of their building on Tuesday before one officer took out a gun and aimed it at an occupier. "I thought it was either a joke or he was robbing us," one protester tells the paper. "Then an ice-cream truck full of SWAT officers pulled up."
Parisi, who believes the raid came over false reports of a terrorist threat, says the cops took unnecessary action during this week’s events. "They forced a 57-year-old diabetic woman onto the ground. And they pointed their guns at my wife,” he says.
"They are calling us terrorists, but what I saw today was demons pointing guns at us," Ramy Mahmoud adds to the account. "They terrified us.”
Mahmoud also says cops questioned him with inquiries which included “Are you a Muslim?” and “Do you love this country?”
"I said hell no, I don't love this country, and it's because of shit like this,” Mahmoud tells the paper.
Several people were handcuffed and brought in for questioning but no arrests were made. Author Naomi Wolf was quick to comment on the story, writing on her Facebook page that "This is some of the scarier footage I have ever seen.”