The protesters marched across South Florida Saturday — forceful in their message and just as passionate, but far less chaotic than last weekend’s gatherings in Miami-Dade and Broward counties that ended in destruction.
The difference this time? Despite large crowds, the protests had organizers that kept things in line.
At least five protests got underway with hundreds gathering with signs, most of them wearing masks and there to demonstrate against racism and police brutality.
Sky10 followed demonstrators of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and genders marching through South Florida in a show of solidarity in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Doral, Sweetwater, and Miramar.
The earliest demonstration began at Bayfront Park at 11 a.m. Roughly 45 people came out for the walking protest that stopped several times for prayer before arriving at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse.
At noon, in Miramar, protesters that included several families marched with help of a police escort. They walked along Miramar Parkway holding signs that read Black Lives Matter and wore T-shirts with the words George Floyd told a Minneapolis police officer, “I Can’t Breathe.”
In downtown Miami, a protest planned at 4 p.m. began at the Torch of Friendship off Biscayne Blvd. and saw most of the protesters leaving even before the Saturday implemented 9 p.m. curfew time. They had covered much ground over five hours, walking through downtown, Wynwood, the Design District and ending near Bayside Park.
They could be seen from Sky 10 walking across from the Freedom Tower on Biscayne Boulevard around 7:30 p.m., and along Bayside Marketplace, where last Saturday night looters smashed out windows of stores, grabbed items and left a path of destruction.
(See Janine Stanwood’s report from the Miami protest)
The massive group stopped traffic walking northbound in the southbound lanes of Biscayne Boulevard. All the while, police kept their distance. The march had an audience from people in high-rises on their balconies, clapping, cheering and banging on pots and pans.
At 6 p.m., as a measure of caution, although no protesters entered onto the interstate, Florida Highway Patrol closed the Julia Tuttle Causeway in both directions.
Just before curfew at 9 p.m., a round of applause from the protesters for the Miami bike police who stayed with them. Miami Police responded to a query from Local 10 if they had made any arrests. “No arrests,” was the response.
As the organizers got ready to leave, tired, but still determined, they said they would be back Sunday in Wynwood for more protesting.
(Watch Sky 10 coverage of protests below)
Probably the closest to anything volatile were a few, small skirmishes In Southwest Miami-Dade during a protest in Sweetwater.
It was a peaceful protest through the campus at Florida International University that began at 2 p.m.
Hundreds of people, largely comprised of students, marched throughout the campus, chanting and at one point stopping to kneel for a moment of silence.
Despite the nature of the protest, Sweetwater police seemed to expect that things might get out of control, blocking major roads and the mayor of of the city implementing an 8 p.m. curfew. The group had planned to wind up its protest at 6 p.m.
Sweetwater PD also surrounded its headquarters with a large fence in order to prevent potential damage, and blocked off SW 109th Ave. to prevent protesters from going north of SW 8th Street and moving towards the police station.
The protesters remained on the campus for most of the day, then got a second wind after what was supposed to be their 6 p.m. ending time.
They started spilling out into the street where they blocked traffic. There was a conflict between an impatient driver and a protester that led to a swarm of people blocking in the SUV for several minutes before letting the vehicle go. Police in riot gear responded to the crowd that had gotten rowdy, but then police backed off.
A man speaking Spanish pulled his car over, got out and began arguing. He accused them of being Communists. Spanish speaking demonstrators argued right back. Eventually, he got back into his car and drove away.
Then curfew time. At 8:08 Sweetwater PD began issuing dispersal warnings.
Most of the protesters did leave shortly after the announcement over a megaphone warning of police action, including chemical agents for those who did not disperse.
Local 10′s crew at the scene witnessed the arrests of four people for not following the order.
The largest gathering in Broward County was a very vocal group of protesters who made their presence known in front of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, then continued through the streets of downtown.
Dozens of people chanted and held signs, with many remaining on the sidewalk for several hours, waving their message at passing cars.
(See Terrell Forney’s report from Fort Lauderdale below)
By mid-afternoon, about 200 people were walking in the march. Fort Lauderdale police officers helped to block traffic for the protesters to demonstrate peacefully and freely in the street.
Ford Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione put out a YouTube message Saturday evening thanking the peaceful demonstrators. “They came here with a message. Their message was heard and it was not overshadowed and it was not overtaken by folks with the intent of diluting that message.”
Sunny Isles Beach
In Sunny Isles Beach, dozens of people gathered in protest Saturday to remember a 20-year-old who died in police custody in 2014.
On Jan. 25, Sunny Isles Police pulled over Alexandre Nicolas on Biscayne Boulevard after following him on the causeway to North Miami Beach, according to The Miami Herald. Police followed him because they believed he was driving a car that had been reported stolen from Miami Beach, an older model Mercedes-Benz.
Police stopped him and told him to get out of the car, according to the newspaper. After he was handcuffed, Nicolas took off running across eight lanes of busy traffic, leaped into a canal and drowned.
A Sunny Isles Beach police officer reportedly chased after Nicolas and jumped into the canal, but was not able to save him.
Family members still have many questions about the tragic incident.
Nicolas’ brother said: “Six years ago my brother passed away in police custody and we were never clear about everything that took place. The only thing that we know for sure is that he is no longer here with us.”
At 1 p.m. , a protest planned at Trump National Doral brought several dozen demonstrators out, many of which were younger people.
The relatively small, but boisterous, group had a loud and personal message for the president, echoing just steps away from the front of Trump National.
Gayle Jones of Miami was one of the protesters in Doral and feels the president has shied away from the topic of ending systemic racism.
“We’re trying to let Donald Trump, and anybody else, know that we need some changes. We don’t need him to just do photo ops,” said Jones. “Racism is a learned language in my life. You have to teach a person how to speak another language. (Trump) was taught racism, and a lot of people have been taught that.”
Those in attendance, many with signs calling for a change in November, took a knee at one point, in a showing of solidarity with the family of George Floyd.