MIAMI, Fla. – Those who want to protest in Miami will have to go through the proper channels if they want to march in the streets, according to Miami’s chief of police.
On Thursday, Jorge R. Colina said that an organizer or organizers of a protest will have to pull a special event permit before staging a demonstration. It will also be mandatory for all protesters to wear a mask or be issued a warning or a citation. Both permitting and mask wearing will be strictly enforced, he said.
31 officers, 6 civilian workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the police department and 115 employees are in quarantine. Colina said many of them were involved in protest patrols.
Colina said officers throughout the holiday weekend and beyond will be enforcing the county order of face masks both indoors and outdoors in public spaces. He also encouraged everyone to practice proper social distancing protocols.
One area that has not been happening are the recent protests across South Florida. Many protesters seen on video do appear to be wearing masks, but there are almost an equal amount that are not.
While many of the protests have been peaceful, they are epicenters for the coronavirus with people in close proximity to one another, along with other ways the virus is spread through the air, i.e. shouting and chanting.
“This is not an attempt in any way for us to silence the public. This is simply us recognizing that we have a public health crisis,” Colina said. “There is a certain hypocrisy that exists when we say, You can’t go to the beach’ and “You have to shut your business,' but somehow it is OK to bring 200, 300 people together shoulder to shoulder, many not wearing a mask.”
Colina said that it is a public right to protest in the city, but there will be procedures to follow.
“If you choose to protest, or occupy – a public right of way within our city – you need to apply for a permit. We have streamlined the process to make it as easy as possible for those who want to be heard,” Colina said.
Yasmin W., a protester said: “They told us that we don’t have the right to protest, we don’t have the right to be on the street and they are going to keep coming back to arrest us.” But, she said, that will not stop her. “I don’t care what they say. If that means I gotta go to jail a thousand times. I’m gonna keep exercising my right.”
One of the reasons for the permit, according to the chief, will be to help law enforcement prepare in advance for traffic disruptions and also to help ensure that everyone is safe.
Local10.com has an inquiry into the city of Miami’s building and permitting department for more information regarding how to request a permit, if there is a cost associated with the process, and other details.