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A joint drill between military and police in South Florida involving troops storming a building in the middle of the night was characterized by local media coverage not as a frightening example of how Americans are being acclimatized to accept a state of martial law but as a ‘cool tourist story’. Panic-stricken residents in Coconut Grove were awoken at 1am to the sound of simulated gunfire and explosions as military helicopters hovered over buildings and dispatched troops to the ground. The Department of Defense drills prompted a deluge of 911 calls, but instead of asking why the military is terrifying American citizens on U.S. soil with drills designed to acclimate the public to accept martial law, local news station WSVN-TV framed the incident as a ‘cool tourist story’.
Members of all branches of the military participated in the operation. The scenario was loud. There was lots of gunfire and building-rattling helicopters and fighter jets. “Helicopters came down with people, soldiers, coming down ropes and jumping from balcony to balcony,” Brugo said of the scene playing out at the empty Grand Bay, next to the Ritz. “They were throwing, like, fireworks, things that emulated bombs and grenades, and there was a lot of noise.” Brugo and other residents of nearby buildings in Coconut Grove were not surprised by the surprise attack, they had received notices of the impending war game and were told “not to be alarmed.”