When we volunteered as a Marshal for the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans (FLARA) Anti-Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Rally to be held at the Miami Bayfront Amphitheatre on Biscayne Blvd in downtown Miami on Thurs., November 20, 2003, I had no idea we would meet 2500 armed, dark blue uniformed Miami Robo-Cops, all dressed alike in full riot gear with body armor from head to foot, ready to do battle with any person unlucky enough to be in their zone of defense.

Our FLARA bus transported thirty (30) union retirees, departing from Pinellas County at 5 a.m., including APWU members George Kraynek, Suncoast Area Local, Bob Jilek, Florida Suncoast Retiree Chapter officer, and Jack Gose representing the APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter. We arrived on the outskirts of Miami at about 9:30 a.m., only to be delayed and rerouted to Miami Beach by the Miami Robo-Cops, representing some 40 different Florida police agencies. Unbelievably, all exits from arterial roads to streets in the downtown Miami area were completely blocked by these law enforcement officers.

Not to be outdone on our return from Miami Beach, our bus driver stopped to park on 2nd St. N.E. to offload our Retirees to walk to the Rally. The Miami Police threatened to tow the Bus away, which would have resulted in a $500. fine for the bus driver. So we moved down 2nd St. N.E closer to the Rally to a dead-end area where the Robo-Cops would let no vehicles or people on foot cross. We walked toward the Robo-Cops and tried to negotiate passage for our Retirees, but the Robo-Cops were unresponsive, ignoring us or waving us away. They were allowing no one of any age, including TV cameramen and Press, entry thru their lines set up on both sides of Biscayne Blvd.

We Retirees all felt like we were being treated like citizens in World War II Nazi Germany or some third world country dictatorship. About an hour later, an older senior Miami Police Major when told of our plight came to our bus, and he offered us a chance to break thru the line of Robo-Cops, if I would lead the column of 30 Retirees single file thru the first line of defense and vouch for every Retiree entering. Once across Biscayne Blvd., having accepted the challenge before us, we were refused entry to the Amphitheater by another younger Miami Police Major, who seemed unconcerned with our Retiree efforts to attend the Rally.

Someone with a cell phone let me use it to call Larry Winawer, FLARA state organizer, who was inside the Amphitheater, and I asked Larry if he could come out and talk to these Robo-Cops to help us gain entry. He said the Miami Police would let no one leave or enter the Amphitheater area. After standing on the sidewalks for over another hour, I talked our way thru a large crowd of hundreds of younger union demonstrators to join the other FLARA, AFL-CIO, and APWU members already seated inside the Rally.

Once inside, we took our seats at the front of the stage along with hundreds of other FLARA Retirees. Larry provided our 30 Retirees with white FLARA T-shirts, box lunches, and soft drinks and he apologized to us for how we had been treated. Our group listened to the AFL-CIO speakers with interest and applause, and then joined the hundreds of other protestors and demonstrators outside the Amphitheater as they started to begin the AFL-CIO anti-FTAA marches going north on Biscayne Blvd.

Guess what, the Robo-Cops would not allow us to guide Retirees free access back across Biscayne Blvd. to return the Retirees to their buses, even though many were feeble and handicapped and had difficulty walking. After another hour the Robo-Cops broke ranks and retreated to another battle zone, allowing us to move about freely as citizens of Florida and the United States of America. Is this America or do we live in a Police State?

Tony Fransetta, President of FLARA, stated in the Miami Herald that FLARA had a written agreement with the Miami Police Dept. to allow 25 busloads of Retirees access to an anti-FTAA Rally, and the Police reneged on their promise to give safe passage to the Retirees for this publicized event. Thirteen FLARA busloads were turned away by the Miami Robo-Cops and returned home early without participation in any of the events, and many of the others were diverted forcing seniors to walk up to two (2) miles to attend the permitted Rally at the Amphitheater in downtown Miami. Every bus had a placard on the front windshield with the FLARA name, and the name and phone number of every person on each bus had been given to the Miami Police Department in advance as they had requested.

Miami Police Chief John Timoney (former Philadelphia Police Chief in the 2000 Republican Convention where thousands were arrested) insisted in the Miami Herald that the violent actions of young non-union protestors triggered several series of police-protestor clashes and traffic jams. Larry Winawer, a 34-year old FLARA State Organizer, and a 71-year old Retiree trying to get back to his bus, were arrested by the Miami Police and spent over 12 hours in jail. They were not able to use the bathroom, drink anything, or use the telephone. Over 200 people were arrested and handcuffed by the Robo-Cops. Charges have been filed against the Miami Police by the AFL-CIO and other organizations for the inhuman treatment given union members and retirees during this event.

The U. S. Congress allocated eighty-five (85) million dollars for Miami’s security costs for the FTAA meetings in Miami by trade ministers from 34 countries in North, Central, and South America. Instead the Miami Police used the money for Homeland Repression. The Miami Police Robo-Cops, from 40 separate police agencies located all over Florida, tried to intimidate and succeeded by using military tanks, water cannons, helmets, wielding of batons, firing rubber bullets from their guns, using stun guns, tear gas, and pepper sprays in the streets to disperse hundreds of people throughout this infamous day. FLARA Retirees will remember November 20, 2003 when the Miami Police State showed its ugly face.

If you want to know more about what is going on in America and Florida, go to
www.FLARA.org and click on FTAA to find out how it will affect you at your job, at home, as a retiree, and to get a more in depth coverage of the reasons for AFL-CIO and FLARA anti-FTAA events.


Tony Fransetta, FLARA President, has announced a scheduled FLARA Legislative Conference and Executive Board meeting to be held in Tallahassee, Fl. on Mon., Mar. 22 and Tue., Mar. 23, 2004 at the Ramada Inn, 2900 North Monroe St. The historic conclave has been called to discuss and layout plans for action in the Spring session of the Florida Legislature. Legislative resolutions will be debated and approved on Monday and meetings with legislators will take place on Tuesday.
All FLARA Executive Board members, Club and individual members including 2789 APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter members, and invited family/guests are welcome at this exciting annual gathering to foster support for the important issues that face Florida Union Retirees and seniors. A banquet dinner is set up for Tuesday night, Mar. 23. The Conference registration fee is $80.00 and guest registration is $60.00. Contact Janelle Thomas, Financial/Membership Director of FLARA in West Palm Beach area at 1-561-792-8799 if you are interested or have any questions or comments.

Ramada Inn Tallahassee hotel room rate is $76.00, plus 10% taxes per night, for FLARA members and guests. Call the Ramada Inn in Tallahassee at 1-850-386-1027 to make reservations, and ask for the FLARA special group rate. All roads lead to Tallahassee for FLARA/APWU Retiree Actions now. Join us in real APWU Retiree Solidarity!


The 2nd Biennial APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter Convention will convene at the Plaza Resort and Spa, 600 Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach, Fl. 32118 at 1 p.m. and adjourn promptly at 4 p.m. on the day before the APWU of Florida Convention from Thurs., May 13 thru Sat., May 15, 2004. Phone the Plaza Resort at 1-800-874-7420 and ask for the APWU discounted Sgl/Dbl rate of $79.00 night, plus 12.5 % taxes, if you go.

Preparations have been made for the APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter to pay for a free luncheon to each APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter member registering as a Retiree Delegate and one family guest in attendance for the Convention. The luncheon is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Plaza Resort Restaurant.

Our invited guest speaker at the Retirees luncheon and the Retirees Convention will be Roy Braunstein, Nat’l. APWU Legislative Director. I spoke with Roy a few months ago, and he accepted our invitation to come and speak. He will reveal the National APWU plans for the 2004 National and State General Elections, and report on Congressional action resulting from the recommendations of the President’s Commission on the U. S. Postal Service, which will drastically affect APWU active members, Retirees, and families.

APWU of Florida Area Local/Local Presidents have been mailed blank APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter Delegate credentials. Contact President Jack Gose, home telephone 727-343-2998 or E-mail to
jak.gose@excite.com if you have any suggestions, questions or comments.


An APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter luncheon (Dutch treat) will be held in Cape Canaveral, Fl. from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thur., March 11, 2004, at the Radisson Resort at the Port Restaurant, 8701 Astronaut Blvd. 32920. Tel: 321-784-0000 for APWU room rate of $99.00 night, plus taxes. Everyone is invited!

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