The following is an interview between Muhammed Malik and Jeremy Scahill. Malik is a human rights advocate and social commentator, born and raised in Miami (full bio below). Scahill is national security correspondent for The Nation and the author of the New York Times bestseller ‘Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army’ and ‘Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield’, released in April, which explores the consequences of the global War on Terror. Scahill will be in Miami on Saturday night to field questions following the screening of the ‘Dirty Wars’ documentary at O Cinema’s Miami Shores location.
As the sky began to darken outside the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami on Tuesday night, the crowd that had gathered to watch the much anticipated eviction of the Occupy Miami camp swelled, while the ranks of the protesters dwindled, some retreating to the perimeter of the park to observe.
The stage was set for a showdown when the permit allowing the “Victorian Sunshine Corporation” to camp out in Government Center expired on Saturday. According to a statement issued by Miami-Dade County, the permit was denied renewal on the basis of unsanitary and unsafe conditions at the protest site. Anyone who remained in the lawn area after sunset on Tuesday outside the building where the protest was centered would be “subject to arrest for trespassing.”
On Saturday afternoon, Occupy Miami — the local offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, a New York-based mass protest (primarily) against the corruption of the U.S. political system by corporations — will convene downtown for the third time in as many weeks to demonstrate and talk strategy. This may be the last gathering before the would-be movement actually occupies an area of Miami, which, according to word on the street, will likely be Government Center.
Taking Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston as harbingers — both have featured police violence and mass arrests — Occupy Miami may end up being a protracted and contentious stand-off between protesters and local authorities. In other words, our city may be in for an autumn heat wave.
With Miami thus on the verge — some would say of revolution, others upheaval, others mere tantrum — I figured it was a good time to try to find out more about Occupy Miami, whose first gathering, at Bayfront Park on Oct. 1, left me equal parts skeptical and hopeful. Toward that end, I recently talked to Muhammed Malik, one of OM’s unofficial organizers (unofficial because the Occupy participants generally spurn centralized leadership).
A seasoned anti-war activist who spent time in the ACLU’s civil rights division, Malik, 29, is quick to point out that he is not running the show. Still he is certainly one of Occupy Miami’s main hustlers, helping in various ways to coordinate its imminent occupation. As such, he’s as much an authority as anyone to answer the questions many bystanders, antagonists, and even sympathizers have about Occupy Miami, starting with …
What is Occupy Miami?
MM: Occupy Miami is a social, political, and economic movement of Miami residents that are fed up with corporate-dominated agendas, both in political parties and by other factions in our society. It’s a space for people to rise up and achieve justice together.