At a Glance
Carol A. Sobel (Law Office of Carol A. Sobel, Santa Monica, California); Robert Ross (Law Offices of Robert Ross, Jr., Lake Worth, Florida); Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl Messineo (Partnership for Civil Justice, Washington, D.C.); Alice Nelson (Southern Legal Counsel, Gainesville, Florida); Jonathan Moore (Beldock, Levine & Hoffman LLP, New York, New York). Co-counsel are also participating on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild’s Mass Defense Committee.
21 activists from the City of Miami
Killmon, et al. v. City of Miami, et al. is a lawsuit brought on behalf of 21 activists against 50 defendants from the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the City of Hialeah, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to challenge the government’s deliberative disruption of lawful political protests and violations of demonstrators’ constitutional rights during the November 2003 meetings of the FTAA in Miami, Florida. Over 40 local, state and federal law authorities coordinated an all out assault on the First Amendment, engaging in widespread political profiling, and swept the streets of anyone viewed as being an anti-FTAA activist, effectively suspending the Fourth Amendment in the city for days using excessive force and unlawfully arresting hundreds of people.
When thousands of social justice, labor, human rights and environmental groups and organizers converged in Miami to protest the latest round of negotiations over a so-called “free trade” zone that would be established by the FTAA, they were met by thousands of officers in a militarized-style force in riot gear, in many cases with no identification. Pursuant to a joint operational plan supported by Homeland Security, more than 40 state, local and federal agencies formed the so-called “Miami Model” of policing mass demonstrations in the U.S. through the use of unconstitutional tactics including:
• political profiling;
• unlawful mass and pre-emptive arrests of almost 300 people;
• illegal surveillance and intelligence on activists’ political activities by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI which was then disseminated to various law enforcement agencies throughout the country;
• use of excessive force and so-called “less lethal” weapons, including projectiles, pepper spray, tear gas, tasers, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and wooden batons against peaceful demonstrators and the use of bicycles to injure protesters;
• use of oversized cages resembling dog kennels for temporary detention post-arrest where activists were held for hours, in handcuffs, without access to counsel, bathrooms, water, or food;
• targeting of legal observers, street medics, and independent media who were documenting police misconduct;
• illegal strip searches;
• sexual assault and inappropriate verbal harassment; and
• excessive bails.
The Plaintiffs seek damages for violations of their constitutional rights and injunctive relief against the federal defendants for conducting unlawful intelligence gathering and dissemination of information concerning activists’ First Amendment activities.