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John Timoney's Journey from Miami to Manama
By David Rovics
John Timoney, until recently chief of police of Miami and before that Philadelphia, formerly of New York City, where he also was a high-ranking cop, is heading to Bahrain to train the cops there, according to the Associated Press. If you happen to know anybody from Bahrain who might be thinking that hiring this New Yorker could be a step in the direction of less massacre-oriented policing policies, this might be a good time to relieve them of any such illusions.
John Timoney is a deceitful thug. Here's the background in a nutshell, for all who might be interested. In 1999 tens of thousands of peaceful protesters shut down the streets of Seattle and more or less shut down the big meeting of the World Trade Organization. Because they were peacefully blocking roads they were violently attacked by thousands of cops with massive amounts of tear gas and other weapons. In another part of town (Nike Town) a couple hundred people destroyed corporate property, were declared to be violent anarchists, and got massive amounts of media attention. The police chased them around but could never seem to catch them. Nobody got hurt in Nike Town other than the violent anarchists.
At every protest against corporate rule after that one, the corporate media went into high gear terrorizing everybody about how violent anarchists from Seattle were coming to destroy the city. Many people started believing this mythology, and it became a good enough pretext for future violent attacks on peaceful protesters after Seattle. It became a good enough pretext for cities like Philadelphia and Miami to hire police chiefs like John Timoney. They hired Timoney because of his reputation as a brutal man willing to get the job done, no matter how many heads had to be cracked open to do it.
In Philadelphia in 2000 the job was to keep the Republican National Convention flowing smoothly, with the protesters kept at bay. In 2003 the job was to keep the Free Trade Area of the Americas talks going along unimpeded. By all accounts the RNC protests in Philadelphia were especially notable because of widespread police brutality -- both in the streets and in the jails. In 2003 I was in Miami for the FTAA talks, and what I saw from the time I got there to the time I left was a city under martial law.
John Timoney was the man in charge, and he was telling the people of Miami and his police force that the violent anarchists from Seattle were coming to destroy the city. He took it further, showing his troops artfully-edited video footage that was supposedly of the Seattle protests, where it appeared there were injured or dead police on the ground at the protests (this never happened). These Miami police were scared, and for no reason. Timoney presumably knew they had no reason to be scared, but there was no doubt that many of these cops believed the media lies which Timoney had been exaggerating even more for their benefit.
Every downtown exit was shut down for days, and almost all the stores and restaurants were shuttered, shop owners made to fear riots that would never happen. Massives fences were erected everywhere, and thousands of police everywhere you looked were wearing the most sinister-looking riot gear, many of them weighted down with an array of "non-lethal" weapons of all kinds, along with the lethal ones there for backup.
In one arbitrary moment the protests were declared illegal and within moments thousands of mostly young people were being drenched with tear gas and attacked, many of them in their backs, with bean bag bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, tazers, and clubs. As people ran into the poor, mostly Black neighborhood near where the conference was taking place, people were helpful, and were also informing them that certain people in their neighborhood had been told by Miami police that they should be encouraged to rob the protesters coming in from out of town -- any potential criminals were apparently given free reign to mug for the duration.
Make no mistake, unfortunate people of Bahrain -- this man is coming to make everything even worse. But he'll smile at the cameras glowingly, and tell them how his police are all acting with the utmost restraint and respect for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It won't be true, though.
JT inspired me to verse twice. Here are the songs I wrote in his honor:
"Butcher for Hire"