Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo — who prides himself on working the street with beat cops — had recent back-to-back encounters with members of the right-wing extremist group the Proud Boys during the first demonstrations in the city in support of protesters in Cuba.
One led to him losing his temper in a July 11 exchange caught on video by an independent journalist. In the clip posted on social media, Acevedo swears at a man who asked the chief why he hangs out with Marxists and communists and supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
In another photo taken the next day, a smiling Acevedo posed with his left arm around Gabriel Garcia, a prominent Proud Boys member who is facing federal charges after posting video on Facebook of his breach of the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection. In the photo, provided to the Miami Herald, Garcia is wearing a t-shirt showing the outline of a man aiming a semi-automatic rifle.
Acevedo said he didn’t know the background of either man he encountered during the raucous demonstrations in Miami.
“There are thousands of people in the crowd and some just come up to you and say can I take a picture. Obviously, I had no idea who that man was. It was a 10-second interaction,” Acevedo said of his photo with Garcia. “I hope the federal judge pays close attention to his actions.”
The video and the photo were taken outside of the Versailles Restaurant two weekends ago when hundreds, perhaps thousands of people showed up in support of the Cubans on the island who were protesting their government’s suppression tactics.
Acevedo, who was born in Cuba, said he regretted his response to being questioned about Black Lives Matter and communism, calling his reaction unacceptable and that he asked the city manager himself to reprimand him. That video has circulated on social media sites including YouTube.
The photo with Garcia does not seem to have been widely circulated. Garcia, 40, is facing two federal felonies and four misdemeanors relating to disorderly conduct and trespassing in the Capitol. He’s defended his entering the capitol as a “glorified tour,” saying no officers stopped him and he had no intention of disrupting the ceremonial counting of electoral votes.
He’s a former U.S. Army captain who ran unsuccessfully for Florida House District 116 as a supporter of former President Donald Trump. Garcia’s defense lawyer declined comment Thursday. Garcia is one of more than 500 people who have been arrested and charged with various crimes for entering the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
In one of his videos, Garcia is heard urging U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “come out and play. He insisted during an interview with the Herald earlier this year that it wasn’t meant as a threat.
Dozens of Proud Boys members — who describe themselves as a “Western Chauvinist” organization — were arrested for roles in the Jan. 6 riot. Garcia is friends with Miami’s Enrique Tarrio, the Proud Boys chairman who this week pleaded guilty to burning a Black Lives Matter flag.