Tuesday, November 11, 2003
FTAA: Downtown Miami Prepares For FTAA Protestors
With controversial trade talks coming to South Florida in just days, officials are bracing for backlash from what could possibly be thousands of protesters. But is the stepped up security bad for local business? 7's Charles Perez is live in Downtown Miami with more.
DOWNTOWN MIAMI -- They could take over the streets of Downtown Miami - protesters - in the tens of thousands... Expected to make their way to the magic city to make their voices heard and to stop free trade.
And it's why so much of Miami's planning on closing down. From Bongos Cuban Cafe - to public buildings, including county and federal courthouses; few are taking any chances.
"I wouldn't put myself in danger coming over here,"Maria Perez, a student at Miami-Dade's
Downtown Wolfson campus. "If I see something going on, I don't want to come over here."
Students at Miami-Dade Community College - downtown campus... glad they're closing down.
"I'm really glad they're closing down," saysClara Sandigo, another downtown student. "It's our security. They should take measures taking care of us."
At downtown businesses - like Moray's Jewelers... where millions of dollars in diamonds sit just a stone's throw away from possible protesters... They're not taking any chances.
"I think we're just gonna close for a week," saysDowntown Businessman Richard Schechter. "Everything will go in the vault and the windows that we have are impact glass that are difficult to get through."
And from the shops up and down Flagler... to the ships that run in and out of Miami's port... access - during this summit - could be - denied.
But in spite of the fear - there are those who say they are staying open.
"We'll be open," saysCarey Watson of Burdines. "Regular hours... We're very confident, yes."
And the reason - they say... because of everything law enforcement's doing to contain any troublemakers.
"It's our task to make sure that they are isolated," saysMiami Police Chief John Timoney, "and when they do engage in unlawful behavior... they will be dealt with immediately and effectively."
And hopefully - that'll be enough to keep downtown stores safe... And those few bad apples - from acting out.