The leaders of the world had gathered
To make the planet freer for free trade
To create a better business climate
For all the profits they had made
Surrounded by an army
There for their defense
Armed with APC’s and ‘copters
And lots of common sense
Behind a fence behind a wall
That shouts you shall not pass

Broken skulls, plastic bullets
And a thousand gallons of tear gas

And the world leaders kept on talking
Behind the mote upon the hill
And they boasted of prosperity
And their latest free trade bill
They thanked God, they thanked Boeing
They thanked the World Bank
They thanked the firepower
Of the M1 Tank
They defended their positions
And the glory of their class


On the streets we chanted
We have no clubs or guns
We’ve just come to tell the people
The evil ways this system runs
But the truth can set us free
The rulers all knew well
So they drowned the truth with ‘copters
And the ringing of the bell
With their tasers on our bodies
And our faces in the grass


And the cameras hid behind the lines
Of half a million men in blue
When the rich men moved their lips
They recorded them on cue
The occupation of a city
By an army of police
Wasn’t worthy of a mention
From the reporters of the peace
Neither were the wounded children
Or the boarded glass


“Miami” originally appeared on the 2004 CD, Songs for Mahmud, and later on the 2010 CD, Troubadour:  People’s History in Song.

I was at the 2003 FTAA protests in Miami.  Thousands of people showed up to protest, the vast majority without throwing anything at the cops.  The cops, however, had been convinced by their police chief, John Timoney, that the protesters were coming to kill them (literally), and they reacted to the protests by shutting down the city, encouraging people in downtown neighborhoods to mug us (they didn’t do this, but the cops told them they should), and rioting — police attacked us and injured many, some seriously.  Thanks in large part to Hugo Chavez, the FTAA talks were unsuccessful anyway.