SWEETWATER, FLA. (WSVN) - A demonstrator is in custody after he climbed a crane near Florida International University and displayed a banner and American flag ahead of Trump’s arrival.
At 10:30 a.m. the demonstrator was seen coming down from the crane, escorted by police officials.
It began just after 8 a.m., on Monday, when a man was seen on top of a crane at a construction site at Southwest 109th Avenue and Tamiami Trail.
The banner showed the words “Mr. President” but was flipped over so the rest of the words were not displayed.
The demonstrator was seen wearing a helmet, climbing gear and straps.
Miami-Dade and Sweetwater Police were on scene and blocked off 109th Avenue.
“This gentleman forced his way into the construction site and made his way up to the top of the crane to make some kind of a political statement or demand,” said Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz.
The political stunt comes hours before President Trump is expected to speak on the Venezuelan tensions at FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus.
At some point while the man was on top of the crane. he had called the local radio station La Poderosa.
“I know he was in contact with some Spanish media sources and made certain demands to be met,” said Diaz.
The radio station confirmed the man called while they were on air and said his message to President Trump was to pardon Cuban exile Eduardo Arocena, who is accused of being the leader of “Omega 7,” an anti-Castro terrorist group.
Arocena is serving a life sentence after he was convicted in the early ’80s on multiple charges of murder and bombings.
According to construction workers on site, they had showed up to work and were told by police to leave.
“I was setting up my station, and they were telling everybody on the deck to get out and then, next thing you know, they came to the bottom telling everybody to get out the site,” said construction worker Fernando Guevara. “We left all our tools and everything. We have no idea what the guy wants.”
Guevara said it’s fairly safe to climb the crane if the demonstrator took the stairs, got as close as he could and then took a ladder up to the top.
The construction workers were sent home for the day, and students headed to school had to take a detour.
A special response team was called to the scene and a negotiator was able to convince the man to come down from the tower.
“We have a series of unintended consequences that individual like this caused, and that’s what we’re trying to avert. That’s what we try to minimize: the impact of time in an instance like this,” said Diaz.
The man is expected to face felony charges, among several others.
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