People were literally hanging over the handrails at Oneline
Studio on Fourth Street and Huron Street last night to hear
first-hand accounts of police violence toward protesters in Miami
Thursday.

Mira Levitan
Florida residents and many University students participate in the Miami protests and march over the weekend. (BECKY TARLAU/For the Daily)
Mira Levitan
Police line up in Miami during the protests (Becky Tarlau/For the Daily).

The crowd was in a festive yet serious mood as they mixed
raising money to cover legal fees for arrested activists, including
University students Jenny Lee and Mike Medow, with celebrating the
second edition of Moment magazine.

Students from many student groups on campus were at hand to
listen to the testimonies. Attending the event were students from
Rad.art consortium, Students Organizing for Labor and Economic
Equality, Anti-War Action! and Moment magazine, a progressive
magazine established this year by University graduate students.
Donations toward legal aid for the arrested protesters were
accepted at the door. The event was expected to only draw 40
people, but more than 50 filled Oneline Studio.

Lee and Medow were released Sunday and face misdemeanor charges.
They were expected to return last night. Both were in Miami as
reporters and held official press passes from an independent news
media outlet called Michigan Independent Media Center, which falls
under the umbrella of Indymedia, according to people at the event.
Lee and Medow are also involved in Moment, though they were not
representing Moment when they were arrested.

Moment editor Yoni Goldstein said that bail and court fees were
set at $550 each for LSA seniors Lee and Medow, who were arrested
Thursday while in Miami protesting negotiations to expand the North
American Free Trade Agreement. The negotiations were aimed at
finalizing a policy called the Free Trade Area of the Americas and
involved all countries in the Western Hemisphere but Cuba.

The FTAA’s stated goal is to lower trade barriers between
member nations. protesters argued the FTAA will mean loss of
American jobs and exploitation of cheap labor and natural
resources.

Recent Michigan alumni Sigh Sobin was one of the protesters
arrested Thursday. He said he decided to go to Miami after finding
out that funding for FTAA conference preparations was hidden in
allocations in the Iraq war budget. “protesters are more and
more being equated with terrorists,” Sobin said. He said
police prevented protesters from joining the officially-sanctioned
march Thursday afternoon and opened fire with tear gas and fire
hoses as soon as the time of the march passed, despite what he
described as peaceful dispersion of marchers.

Sobin said police action toward the peaceful marchers led him to
engage in more direct action, such as erecting barricades and
videotaping arrests to make sure police weren’t using violent
means in dealing with protesters. “With the cops using those
kinds of tactics, it forces people to engage in direct
action,” he said. He was arrested while videotaping other
people being arrested; police dropped all charges against him after
he was booked.

Goldstein and Sobin both talked about discriminatory police
actions toward transgendered people, women and people of color.
Goldstein said police tore the clothes off a transgendered
activist; Sobin said police took the shoes of an arrested
transgendered activist and forced him to stand in a wet prison
cell. Goldstein said one female protestor was forced to perform
sexual favors in prison.

Goldstein, an LSA senior, said that although the event at
Oneline Studio was originally scheduled as a celebration of
Moment’s second edition release, the aim shifted with the
weekend’s events. “We decided that part of what we
should do is have a benefit for these detained individuals,”
he said.

Goldstein said the journal is part of the independent media
movement around the country. “Although it’s not
official yet, Moment is a progressive journal that is a print media
outlet for Indymedia.org,” Goldstein said. Submissions
include poetry, essays, news analysis and artwork.

He added that once the finances of Moment are finalized, the
connection between Indymedia and Moment will be official. Moment
distributes around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and plans to distribute
in some of the major campus buildings such as Angell Hall.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *