MIAMI (WSVN) - The City of Miami’s police chief walked among demonstrators who marched through parts of Miami in support of the protests happening in Cuba.
Chief Art Acevedo could be seen marching and leading a group of demonstrators down Southwest Seventh Street, along with several police officers, at around 11 p.m., Wednesday.
“Our community is hurting, and whether it’s last summer’s Black Lives Matter and George Floyd protest, if you’re in law enforcement, especially a police leader, and you can’t have empathy and you can’t be with your community, you probably don’t need to be here,” Acevedo said. “Some guy here wants to go the wrong way and go on the freeway. We have to be reasonable. We’re being reasonable. They need to be reasonable.”
The march began on Biscayne Boulevard, near Bayfront Park, in downtown Miami and has since moved its way west towards Little Havana. Cameras captured demonstrators holding signs that said “SOS Cuba” and chanting “Libertad!“
“When you’re a police chief, you have to live in that city, and you have to be part of that community,” Acevedo said. “This is our community. Last summer, it was Black Lives Matter, the George Floyd family. If you can’t feel that pain in the African American community last summer and the Cuban community this year, then you need to go do something else.”
Acevedo was also asked about the concerns some South Floridians have regarding closing down roadways as protesters demonstrate.
“It’s a balance. Everything’s a balance,” he said in response. “You don’t see this city burning. You don’t see things getting destroyed. You see people exercising their First Amendment rights. The First Amendment is very important. There’s a good reason we started with that, and so we have to balance safety with rights, so that’s what we need to do.”
The police chief was also seen hugging a demonstrator as emotions ran high.
Those who took part in Wednesday night’s demonstration said their families on the island are suffering, oppressed and cannot get basic necessities.
Adrian Fernandez, who marched on Tuesday and was present in Wednesday’s protest, reiterated the Cuban people’s struggles.
“I’m Cuban American. I’m blessed to be born here in America, but the people in Cuba aren’t so fortunate,” he said. “They’re fighting for their lives in Cuba. They deserve so much more, and they deserve to hear us and know that they are not alone. They need freedom. They need medicine, food, water. We keep repeating ourselves, but we’re not doing anything. Let’s do something.”
Since the protests began on the island on Sunday, relatives in South Florida have experienced issues while trying to communicate to their loved ones.
“I have a lot of co-workers, a lot of family over there,” Fernandez said. “They’ve been able to communicate for the last day or so, but as of yesterday, the power and all that has gone out, so it’s hard to communicate even with family over there. It’s tough.”
Fernandez also thanked Acevedo and City of Miami Police for protecting protesters while they marched through the streets.
“One word: unity. Altogether, we appreciate the City of Miami protecting us and continuing to be together to fight for Cuba,” Fernandez said. “They deserve it. They deserve everything. It’s just sad. It’s a sad situation now, but we’re here for them, and we won’t stop.”
Fernandez also said demonstrators like himself will not stop until something is done to help Cubans on the island.
“It can’t stop and won’t stop until something happens,” he said. “We call on the Biden administration, please help us. We’re crying. We want help. The bare minimum, come to Miami and speak to us, do something for us.”
Support was also seen near Bayside Marina as a flotilla of vessels gathered to demonstrate their support of the protests happening in Cuba.
“The plan today is to get an approval from the Coast Guard to go out and be as close as possible to the shore of Cuba and get flares out to let the Cuban people know we’re there,” Lopez said.
The U.S. Coast Guard has warned people against making the trip because of how dangerous it is.
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