Calm Returns to Streets of Miami as FTAA Talks End


MIAMI -- There was little sign that a major demonstration had rumbled through the downtown by daylight Friday. Streets devoid of protesters had been swept clean, spray-painted graffiti had been covered with white paint, and a smaller police force was on the streets.

"Of course, people were scared, but the city was prepared," office concierge Heriberto Cepero said while sweeping his sidewalk.

A total of 143 demonstrators were arrested Thursday, and 20 people were taken to the hospital for treatment, including three police officers.

"As the level of confrontation escalated, so did the level of presence by our police officers," police spokesman Jorge Pino said.

After Thursday's march ended, several dozen protesters returned to the streets to clash with officers, challenging police lines and throwing water bottles, colored flares and rocks at officers.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators after they set trash fires and launched projectiles from slingshots.

Officers set up a perimeter, marching toward demonstrators in waves and firing more rubber bullets to force them back. Some protesters tore down street signs and vandalized cars.

Protester Brice Smith, 27, of Washington, D.C., said he was hit with rubber bullet on his right side below his ribs.

"All I had was a peace sign in the air and they shot me in the stomach," Smith said.

Several others said they were also struck by rubber bullets in the head and chest. It was not immediately known how many people were injured. Some journalists were among the hurt.

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