TRADE UNIONISTS and protesters against corporate globalisation were united on a demonstration through Miami in Florida last week. The march took place on the same day as 300,000 protested against George Bush in London.
The US demonstration was against four days of talks over the Free Trade Area of the Americas pact, which would boost neo-liberal policies in a zone stretching from Alaska to the tip of South America. The prospect of rampant privatisation of health, education and water, and the destruction of jobs, drove over 12,000 protesters onto Miami's streets.
The AFL-CIO union federation was one of the key organisers of Thursday's march. There were steel workers' union flags alongside giant puppets and placards. In London Bush hailed Western democracy as giving freedom and the right to protest. Yet in Miami US police used batons, pepper spray and teargas against the demonstrators.
'Parts of downtown Miami resembled a police state,' reported CBS News. Cory Fischer-Hoffman, a university student, explained that when police officers advanced she showed them the peace sign. An officer then hit her in the face with a club.
'We were standing there totally peacefully. I was honestly looking this guy in the eye with a peace sign and then, all of a sudden, boom. There was no provocation.'
Cheri Hoggan, the wife of a steel worker from Utah, said a police officer pushed her to the ground. She and others said an officer put a gun to her head. 'I'm just bruised up and down. It was a pretty scary ordeal,' she said. Police stopped 87 union buses, which meant they couldn't get into Miami on time for the rally.
The American Civil Liberties Union said demonstrators complained of police stopping and searching people at random throughout the week. They then dumped the contents of their bags into the gutter. Joseph Meltzer, aged 86, was confronted by a line of police stopping him getting on his bus home.
'This is ridiculous. The only way to save this country is to get rid of George Bush,' he said.