The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 76/No. 30      August 13, 2012

Cab drivers in Miami slam cop
assault, arrest of coworker
(front page)
MIAMI, July 23—“Nobody drives until we find out what happened to the driver they arrested on Saturday,” said Joanel Ceremy at the main exit of the airport taxi lot here over a bullhorn. He was referring to fellow driver Pierre Paul Kesler, who two days earlier was beaten up by a Miami International Airport code officer and arrested by Miami-Dade police.

“The bail bondsman could not find him. His family doesn’t know where he is. He has disappeared for three days,” Ceremy told the Militant.

Despite orders by dispatchers to move, some 80 drivers clogged up the lanes, demanding to know Kesler’s whereabouts.

Thomas, who declined to give his last name, said the New Vision Taxi Drivers Association, the cab drivers’ union, told everyone in the morning to be at the lot at 2:30 p.m. and not leave until they found out where Kesler was. “Everyone agreed,” Thomas said.

At about 4 p.m., cops entered the lot with a tow truck and squad cars. Drivers immediately surrounded the truck. The driver stayed inside the truck, which did not move during the standoff. Cops did not attempt to arrest anyone.

“What the police are doing is wrong,” Nimal Wettasinghe, who has been driving for a year, told the Militant. “But we are not organized. We need a spokesperson and a lawyer.”

“We will not move!” yelled Jim Paul, a cab driver for three years. Others repeated what he said.

Drivers, the majority of whom are originally from Haiti, said abuse by airport officials and lot managers is common.

“Sometimes we are forced to wait at the terminal for hours and we are not allowed to use the bathroom there,” Dale Saintilhomme said. “Many drivers have hypertension and have to use the bathroom often but they make us come back to the lot. Then, every time we leave the lot we have to pay $2.”

This was the fifth incident of beatings by airport cops in the last five years, according to a press release issued by the taxi drivers’ union.

At about 5 p.m. the police reported that Kesler was being held at the county jail and would be released later that day. Having won their demand, drivers got back in their cars and returned to work.

Fellow drivers raised and posted $2,000 bail to get Kesler out of jail.
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On the Picket Line  
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