IAM Local Lodge 956 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
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Battle between Free Trade & Free Speech
11/27/2007
An AFL-CIO lawsuit charges four Florida municipalities with violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of thousands of workers and retirees who traveled to Miami to protest the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) summit in 2003.

The lawsuit documents extensive police use of tear gas, truncheons and rubber bullets to assault peaceful protestors while blocking access to a lawful union gathering at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami.

“Union members and retirees in Miami were met by thousands of police in full riot gear and armored vehicles, paid for in part with funds earmarked for the war in Iraq,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, who spoke at the AFL-CIO rally in Bayfront Park. “Under the guise of providing ‘protection’ for foreign trade ministers, law enforcement personnel in Miami provided a chilling glimpse of the battle between free trade and free speech.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, follows nearly four years of legal efforts and seeks punitive damages and a declaration that some police violated the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights of thousands of protestors.

“This is an extremely important First Amendment case,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.


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Last modified: 2/18/2010

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