Occupy Miami is a local offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, a protest against the corrupting influence of corporations on U.S. politics, the lack of accountability in the global financial system, high unemployment, and various other issues. Like OWS, Occupy Miami is officially leaderless (though certain participants have emerged as unofficial organizers) and its participants call themselves “the 99%”, a reference to their belief that a small elite group — “the 1%” — wield far too much power in modern America.
The first Occupy Miami gathering was on Oct. 1, 2011, at the Torch of Friendship in Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. The gathering drew about 200 people from throughout South Florida and commenced with an airing of grievances in front of a statue of Ponce de Leon. As the following video shows, the turnout drew people of many different ethnicities and several generations. The diversity of the Occupy movement in general is, proponents say, proof that it has tapped into widespread dissatisfaction with the direction America has taken in the last decade.
The second Occupy Miami gathering was on Oct. 8, 2011. Rain kept the turnout down and forced the people who did show up to relocate to nearby Government Center, which is one of the places Occupy Miami’s participants are considering for the location of their actual occupation. (Occupy Wall Street is occupying Zuccotti Park, “an utterly obscure city-block-size downtown plaza … around the corner from ground zero and two blocks north of Wall Street on Broadway,” according to the New York Times.)
After garnering a lot of attention from local news media, Occupy Miami met for a third time, on Oct. 15, 2011, again at the Torch of Friendship in Bayfront Park. The gathering drew between 800 and 1,000 people at its peak, according to a police estimate. Unlike on the previous two Saturdays, the third gathering started with a protest march, which ended at Government Center, before its participants held a “general assembly” discussion about where and when to stage their occupation.
As the third meeting wound down, a group of participants decided to begin the occupation by setting up tents on the western lawn of Government Center. Among them was FIU graduate student Mamyrah Dougé-Prosper, who explains here why she is taking part in Occupy Miami.
Others eventually joined the initial group of Occupy Miami campers. Participant Bruce Wayne Stanley estimated that between 50 and 80 people camped out on that first night. Another participant, Charles Heck, who described himself as a member of the Occupy Miami media group, told Beached Miami that Government Center would serve as a “staging ground” for Occupy Miami. He also said that there would be other occupation sites in Miami.
Whereas police and protesters have clashed at Occupy encampments in other cities — notably New York and Boston — there has been no such tension in Miami so far. Beached Miami contributor Jared Goyette reported seeing bicycle police shake hands with protesters as they set up camp after the third Occupy Miami meeting. Of course, as Occupy Miami evolves, its participants’ relationship with local authorities will evolve as well.
As is true of Occupy groups in other cities, Occupy Miami has as robust an online presence as it does a physical one. In fact, having garnered more than 10,000 Facebook “likes” and 2,300 Twitter followers in its first few weeks, Occupy Miami is arguably more an online phenomenon than anything else. This too may change as the actual occupation wears on.
— Beached Miami coverage of Occupy Miami
— Occupy Miami on Facebook
— Occupy Miami on Twitter
— “Occupy Miami: Brass Tacks and Jazz Hands”
— “Occupy Miami, on the verge”
— “Live: Occupy Miami at Bayfront Park”