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Last month, representatives from thirty-four nations met in Miami to negotiate the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a proposal to create a free trade zone that would span the entire Western hemisphere, with the exception of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. As trade ministers met behind closed doors on Thursday, November 20, an estimated 15,000 people — labor union members, environmentalists, human rights activists, small farmers, students, anarchists — marched in downtown Miami to protest the trade pact, which they argued would threaten the livelihoods of farmers and workers and erode protections for the environment. The demonstrators were met by some 2,500 police officers from more than forty local, state, and federal agencies — a security force paid for, in part, with $8.5 million included in the $87 billion Iraq appropriations bill recently passed by Congress. Thursday’s demonstrations ended abruptly later that afternoon, when police officers in riot gear marched into the crowds and started subduing protesters with wooden batons, rubber bullets, and pepper spray. According to police, some individuals in the crowd had started hurling rocks at the police lines; demonstrators at the scene, however, denied there was any provocation. By the end of the next day, 231 people had been arrested, and dozens injured, including a handful of police officers. The images in this visual essay, drawn from the work of five photographers who were in Miami that week, document the actions of both protesters and police.

Victor Tan Chen is In The Fray‘s editor in chief and the author of Cut Loose: Jobless and Hopeless in an Unfair Economy. Site: | Facebook | Twitter: @victortanchen

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