Crowds Set Fires on Miami Streets

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

( - Tensions are high in Miami, where crowds protesting the early-morning seizure of Elian Gonzalez have set fires in the streets of Little Havana.

Crowds have taken to Miami streets, and there are unconfirmed reports of injuries and at least one protestor who has suffered a heart attack.

Miami Police Department spokesperson Bill Schwartz was attacked by crowd members for several minutes before being escorted by police in riot gear and a crowd of Cuban-Americans to a waiting car.

Furniture, tires, and debris have burned in the streets of Little Havana, and there have been sporadic reports of civil disobedience from crowds, though no violence.

Demonstrators blocked Miami Interstate Highway 86 westbound in an effort to protest the seizure of Elian Gonzalez from the home in Little Havana where he was staying.

Tear gas has been used to disperse the crowd, according to police reports.

The Gonzalez family, Cuban-American leaders and local police have issued public please for calm.

So far, demonstrations have largely been non-violent, though community organizers have promised to shut down the city.

Miami Mayor Joe Carollo has protested the government's move early Saturday morning.

"I am ashamed. I am so ashamed of what our country did here tonight. There was no need for this to happen in this fashion," said Carollo.

Only 100 people were present at the Little Havana home at the time of the raid, but the crowd there has grown to more 1000 in the past several hours.