Laura Antunez/Staff Writer
Updated at 5:35 p.m.:
FIU students and several others came together yesterday at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus to express their discontent for the recent acts of police brutality against the black community and to inspire a better future.
“For those not in the black community, keep educating yourselves. Become an ally,” said Jordan Daniels, one of the speakers who attended the protest.
The agenda of the protest was to speak against systemic racism, hear speakers talk about their own experiences encountering racism, march through campus from the lot in front of PG5 to the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum and then return back to the initial lot to let others express themselves openly to the crowd.
The march throughout campus echoed chants such as “No justice, no peace. No racist police” and “Say her name- Breonna Taylor.” Once the protesters got to their designated end of the route in front of the Frost Art Museum, everyone took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds. This was the same amount of time Derek Chauvin had his knee pressed against George Floyd’s neck that eventually led to his death.
Throughout the walk, there were many safeguards to promote crowd safety. Free water and snacks were available, as well as refillable water bottle containers. Towards the end of the walk, there were volunteers offering protesters cold water and medics all around in case of injury or fainting. FIUPD and two helicopters were all around campus.
Co-organizer Rosen T. Gordon, who goes by zhe pronouns, emphasized the intersectionality with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the difference between white supremacy and anti-blackness.
“The idea behind intersectionality is that people with different identities will suffer through unique experiences of oppression,” zhe said. “I’m a black non-binary trans man and I’ll experience something different than a black woman, who will experience something different from a white gay man.”
Gordon went on to say that originally the protest was being organized by white Hispanic people, but zhe felt it was very important for it to be black-led.
The protest went as planned once students began to return to the lot in front of PG5 and a portion of the protesters split away and took to the streets.
“The first half went as planned. I felt like everyone was able to get heard,” said co-organizer and FIU alumna Kiyra Ellis. “We did a nice march and it was beautiful but it kind of went off the rails when some of our protesters went into the street and that’s when we had to call it off due to legal reasons.”
Ellis said that despite having to cut the protest short, the organizers supported them regardless and were not actively trying to stop them.
The portion of the crowd that went into the streets marched along the intersection at 8th St. and 107th Ave. Some remained inside the lot to continue the speeches.
Sometime after 6 p.m. riot police began to show up. An officer from the Miami-Dade Police Department declared the protest to be an unlawful assembly and threatened the protestors with arrest or subject to other police action. By this time only a fraction of protesters remained and were mostly on the sidewalk.
“Other police action may include [the use of] chemical agent,” said the police officer in a Twitter video.
Officers eventually rushed the sidewalk to detain some of the protesters. Videos of arrests circulated on social media and showed police handcuffing at least four people.
The officer said protesters were in violation of Chapter 870.04 of the Florida state statues, and anyone who remained in the area would be in violation. However, according to the American Civil Rights Liberty Union, protesters are not required to have a permit to march on the streets or sidewalks, as long as they do not obstruct vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
Earlier in the afternoon, Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez issued an 8 p.m. curfew in anticipation of the protest. The county had a 10 p.m. protest in place already. He cited being able to have daylight and monitor what he called “professional agitators.”
No violence, destruction of property or looting occurred during or after the organized protest.
This is an ongoing story and will be updated once more information is provided.