Brooks Brothers riot

The Brooks Brothers riot was a demonstration at a meeting of election canvassers in Miami-Dade County, Florida on November 19, 2000, during a recount of votes made during the 2000 United States presidential election. The name refers to a traditional brand of suits associated with conservative business dress.

The demonstration

Hundreds of paid GOP operatives descended upon South Florida to protest the state's recounts,[1] with at least half a dozen of the demonstrators at Miami-Dade paid by George W. Bush's recount committee.[2] Several of these protesters were identified as Republican staffers and a number later went on to jobs in the Bush administration.[3]

The "Brooks Brothers" name refers to the fact that the protesters, in corporate attire, sporting "Hermès ties"[4] were astroturfing, as opposed to local citizens concerned about counting practices.

The demonstration was organized by Republican operatives, sometimes referred to as the "Brooks Brothers Brigade",[5] to oppose the recount of ballots during the Florida election recount. Realizing that they could not meet a court-ordered deadline, the canvassers decided to limit the recount to the 10,750 ballots rejected by computer, and moved the counting process to a smaller room closer to the ballot-scanning equipment to speed up the process, while restricting media access to 25 feet away while they continued. Republicans objected to this change of plans and insisted the canvassers must do a full recount. At this time, New York Rep. John Sweeney told an aide to "Shut it down."[2][4][6] The demonstration turned violent, and according to the NY Times, "several people were trampled, punched or kicked when protesters tried to rush the doors outside the office of the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections. Sheriff's deputies restored order." DNC aide Luis Rosero was kicked and punched. Within two hours after the riot died down, the canvassing board unanimously voted to shut down the count, in part due to perceptions that the process wasn't open or fair, and in part because the court-mandated deadline was impossible to meet.[7][8][9]

The controversial incident was set in motion by John E. Sweeney,[10] a New York Republican who was nicknamed "Congressman Kick-Ass" by President Bush for his work in Florida.[11] Sweeney defended his actions by arguing that his aim was not to stop the hand recount but to restore the process to public view.[12] Some Bush supporters did acknowledge they hoped the recount would end. "We were trying to stop the recount; Bush had already won," said Evilio Cepero, a reporter for WAQI, an influential Spanish talk radio station in Miami. "We were urging people to come downtown and support and protest this injustice." A Republican lawyer commented, "People were pounding on the doors, but they had an absolute right to get in."[7] The protest prevented official observers and members of the press from getting in.[9][13]


A partial list:[3]

Popular culture

This riot was dramatized in the made-for-TV film Recount.


  1. Mob Scene in Miami Time Magazine; November 26, 2000
  2. 1 2 Maddow, Rachel (August 4, 2009). "Reviewing the history of fake conservative protests". MSNBC TV.
  3. 1 2 Kamen, Al: Miami 'Riot' Squad: Where Are They Now?, Washington Post, January 24, 2005
  4. 1 2 Gigot, Paul A. Miami Heat: A burgher rebellion in Dade County The Wall Street Journal: Opinion, November 24, 2000
  5. Pullizi , Henry J: White House Brushes Off Health-Care Protests, The Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2009
  6. COUNTING THE VOTE: MIAMI-DADE COUNTY; A Wild Day in Miami, With an End to Recounting, and Democrats' Going to Court; The New York Times; Dana Canedy, Dexter Filkins; November 23, 2000
  7. 1 2 Filkins, Dexter and Dana Canedy. Protest Influenced Miami-Dade's Decision to Stop RecountThe New York Times, November 24, 2008
  8. Right-Wingers Praise Antics of Bush Thugs Joe Conason; The New York Observer; December 3, 2000
  9. 1 2 Parry, Robert, Bush's Conspiracy to Riot,, August 5, 2002
  10. Lantigua, John: Miami's rent-a-riot,, Politics, November 28, 2000
  11. Staba, David Race Profile: The 20th District in New York, The New York Times, August 22, 2006
  12. Noah, Timothy. Sweeney and the Siege of Miami Slate. November 28, 2000.
  13. CLARY, MIKE (2000-12-02). "Miami Mayor Denies Gore Urged Him to Publicly Support Recount". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  14. Reinhard, Beth:"Bush strategist shares insight on '00 recount", Miami Herald, May 17, 2008
  15. Sarlin, Benjamin (Nov 20, 2008). "A GOP Dirty Trickster Has Second Thoughts". The Daily Beast.
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