Mar 13, 2024 - News

Palestine protests lead to new restrictions in Miami Beach

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 08: Protestors from the South Florida Coalition for Palestine demonstrate for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict at Art Basel Miami Beach 2023 at the Miami Beach Convention Center on December 08, 2023 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Protesters from the South Florida Coalition for Palestine demonstrate at Art Basel Miami Beach 2023. Photo: Dave Benett/Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty Images

In response to recent pro-Palestine demonstrations in the city, Miami Beach commissioners passed legislation Wednesday barring protesters from obstructing streets or sidewalks.

Why it matters: The unanimous vote followed tense debate and shouting between pro-Israel city leaders and supporters of Palestine who argued the law would silence opposing voices.

  • Mayor Steven Meiner, who sponsored the legislation, said the goal is to keep the public safe after an incident in which he said protesters harassed elderly Jewish residents leaving their synagogue.

What's inside: The ordinance makes it a crime for anyone to obstruct a public right of way after being ordered to leave by police.

  • It requires the city to provide protesters an "adequate and available alternative forum" nearby to hold their demonstration.
  • A related resolution directs the city to plan for future protests and notify the commission of upcoming demonstrations.

The latest: On Monday, pro-Palestine protesters distributing flyers outside a climate conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center were ordered to move to a barricaded area at a nearby park, the Miami Herald reported.

Friction point: Meiner, who is Jewish, muted the microphones of two Jewish residents who spoke out against the ordinance and Israel's military operation in Gaza.

  • He yelled at one resident for saying she wished more groups had protested the Nazis and called another resident's comments antisemitic.
  • "This is a nonpartisan commission meeting and I'm not going to allow you to debase and lie about the Israeli government," Meiner said.

Yes, but: The resolution that Meiner sponsored outlines Miami Beach's support for Israel.

  • Asked at the meeting about that reference, Meiner denied mentioning Israel in the text of the resolution. (The resolution was prepared by the city attorney at Meiner's request, per the agenda item.)

The other side: Miami Beach resident Donna Nevel, who said she had participated in the pro-Palestine protests, said it was a shanda, or shameful act, to "call speaking out for justice antisemitic."

  • "You should all be ashamed of yourselves."

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