What to Know
- A large group of protesters gathered in Downtown Miami Friday, leading to road and highway closures
- The protest caused police to shut down I-95 near Miami and westbound I-395 from Miami Beach
- Earlier in the day, police had suggested that downtown business close early in anticipation of the demonstration
A large group of protesters marched through Downtown Miami and down Interstate 95 Friday in ongoing support of the Black Lives Matter movement and for calls to defund the police.
The group gathered in Downtown Miami in the afternoon, hours after police asked all non-essential downtown businesses to close in anticipation of the demonstration.
The protesters gathered near the Torch of Friendship before marching onto nearby streets and to the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. They then made their way to the area of Brickell Avenue and 6th Street before approaching S. Miami Avenue between 7th Street and 8th Street.
Miami Police shut down Interstate 95 in both directions near downtown. Miami Beach Police also closed the westbound lanes of the MacArthur Causeway.
The crowd marched down an I-95 onramp and came face-to-face with a line of state troopers. After a brief standoff, the protesters turned around and walked off the highway.
Protests have occurred every day for over two weeks in South Florida, sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.
“Every day I read another story how a different police department is taking another step to at least look like they are curbing the problem," said Cameron White, who was protesting in Downtown Miami Friday. "I do think we are making progress. That’s why I’m here. I’m going to be out here every day until things have finally changed."
Protesters in Miami have also called attention toward reform in an economic system where minorities have to work significantly harder to succeed.
“A lot conversations I have been privy to are about police reform and also economic opportunities,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “More resources in economic development — more resources in helping people get vocational training — have an opportunity to be successful. We want to make sure that this momentum transits into policy."
Earlier in the day, police said they were expecting a large protest and had advised certain businesses to close early.
"The expected attendance is unknown, but there may be significant interruptions to vehicular and pedestrian traffic and business operations," the statement read. "We suggest that non-essential businesses close no later than 2 p.m. this afternoon."
The statement didn't say what businesses were considered non-essential.
"We thank you for your cooperation, as we continue in our commitment to facilitate peaceful protest and to protect life and property in our City," the statement read.
Officials said downtown courthouses received an evacuation notice due to expected road closures Friday. That includes the Dade County Courthouse, the Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center, the Miami-Dade County Children’s Courthouse, the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, the Overtown Transit Village South and the Joseph Caleb Center.
Seven people were arrested at a downtown protest earlier this week after police said statues of Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León in Bayfront Park were vandalized with spraypaint.
Police said officers were assaulted and their car was damaged when they arrived at the scene.