Amnesty International and the ACLU recently settled a lawsuit that defended our members’ right to peacefully protest. Miami officials admitted that during the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) protests in Miami, they used overwhelming police force prohibiting a group of Amnesty International members from peacefully protesting.
Even though members of the Amnesty International Miami Chapter had a permit to assemble, police officers restrained people from gathering, preventing them from exercising their constitutional right to assemble and protest. Although Amnesty International took no position on the FTAA treaty itself, the protests were planned to bring attention to human rights abuses in the Americas.
In 2006 the ACLU of Florida filed the Amnesty International USA v. Louis Battle and Thomas Cannon lawsuit that was finally settled last week. Miami-Dade and City of Miami officials acknowledged their use of vast and unnecessary police force, also disclosing regret that their actions had prevented Amnesty International’s attempt to communicate an important message to the public.
The outcome of this lawsuit stands as an example of our rights as citizens to free speech and freedom of people to peacefully assemble, in the hopes that in future demonstrations, the actions of the November 2003 FTAA protests will not take place.