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Questions arise after Little Havana protestors were detained, then released following call from mayor and visit from commissioner

Members of South Florida’s Cuban American community gathered on Saturday outside Miami’s Café Versailles restaurant.
Members of South Florida’s Cuban American community gathered on Saturday outside Miami’s Café Versailles restaurant.

MIAMI – Members of South Florida’s Cuban American community gathered on Saturday outside Miami’s Café Versailles restaurant.

They stood in solidarity with Cubans protesting civil rights on the communist island.

At one point, things got rowdy and City of Miami police made several arrests.

Those people were then subsequently released after a city commissioner arrived, and that is causing quite a stir.

Controversial former Miami Police Union President Javier Ortiz called out elected officials on Sunday for interfering, after he said police detained several people during the anti-communism rally in Little Havana the day before.

“Apparently yesterday several arrests were made at Versailles Café,” Ortiz said. “(Miami Commissioner) Joe Carollo showed up, entered a restricted area, apparently it’s all caught on video. Subsequently, they were just released, they were un-arrested. Talk about corruption.”

In response to those comments, Commissioner Carollo had strong words for the man making those allegations.

“The worst cop that we’ve ever had in the history of Miami, a guy that has used the badge to abuse and beat up scores of our citizens,” Carollo said.

Carollo and City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez both said they received several phone calls about the arrests on Saturday, hearing someone at the event was trying to provoke demonstrators.

Mayor Suarez said he spoke with the Chief of Police, but that the department independently made the decision to release those in custody.

“I called the Chief of Police to let him know what was going on,” Suarez explained. “He did the right thing by sending a supervisor there. The supervisor analyzed what was going on and he’s the one that made the decision, which is the appropriate person to make the decision to let them go.”

Carollo said the group was already set to be released when he went to the police station, which he claimed was to calm things down and urge them to protest peacefully.

“When you have incidents like this, this is my job,” Carollo said. “To keep peace within our city.”


About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.