Brooks Brothers riot

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Brooks Brothers riot
Brooks Brothers riot.jpg
DurationNovember 22, 2000
LocationMiami-Dade County, Florida
MotiveDisrupt recount of votes in the 2000 United States presidential election
TargetOfficials canvassing the vote

The Brooks Brothers riot was a demonstration led by Republican staffers at a meeting of election canvassers in Miami-Dade County, Florida, on November 22, 2000, during a recount of votes made during the 2000 United States presidential election, with the goal of shutting down the recount. After demonstrations and acts of violence, local officials shut down the recount early. This had the effect of ensuring that the December 12 "safe harbor" deadline set by Title 3 of the United States Code could not be met, guaranteeing that George W. Bush would win the 2000 election.

The name referenced the protesters' corporate attire; described by Paul Gigot in an editorial for The Wall Street Journal as "50-year-old white lawyers with cell phones and Hermès ties", differentiating them from local citizens concerned about vote counting.[1] Many of the demonstrators were Republican staffers.[2] Both Roger Stone and Brad Blakeman take credit for managing the riot from a command post, although their accounts contradict each other.[2] Republican New York Representative John E. Sweeney gave the signal that started the riot,[3] telling an aide to "shut it down".[4][5]


In the 2000 United States presidential election between candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore, in the state of Florida, George W. Bush achieved an election night majority by 1,784 votes, a very close margin. Due to the closeness of the race, and irregularities such as hanging chads, the Gore campaign successfully advocated for a re-count of certain ballots. Miami-Dade County was one of the counties where ballots were re-counted.

The Miami-Dade County Democratic Party chairman suspected that thousands of ballots in this county might have been affected by a voting machine glitch.[6] He suspected that these ballots, after re-tallying, would help candidate Al Gore.[6] Miami-Dade County official canvassers, in order to meet a court-ordered deadline, decided to limit the county's recount to the 10,750 ballots that their tabulation machines had been unable to tally. They moved the counting process to a smaller room, closer to the ballot-scanning equipment, to speed up the process, at a distance from the media. Republican officials objected to this change.

The demonstration[edit]

Hundreds of people, including many Republican staffers,[3][7] descended upon South Florida to protest the state's recounts.[7] The demonstration was organized by these operatives, sometimes referred to as the "Brooks Brothers Brigade",[8] to oppose the recount of ballots during the Florida election recount. The official canvassers, to speed up the process and meet their deadline, moved the counting process into a new room, and members of the media were restricted to a distance of 25 feet away.

Republicans objected to this change of plans. John E. Sweeney of New York, nicknamed "Congressman Kick-Ass" by President Bush for his work in Florida,[9] set the incident in motion[10] by telling an aide to 'stop them'[1][5] and to "Shut it down."[1][5] The demonstration turned violent and, according to The New York 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." Democratic National Committee aide Luis Rosero claimed to be kicked and punched outside of Leahy's office.[11] Within two hours after the event, the canvassing board unanimously voted to shut down the count, in part due to perceptions that the process was not open or fair, and in part because the court-mandated deadline had become impossible to meet, due to the interference.[11][12]

Sweeney defended his actions, arguing that his aim was not to stop the hand recount, but to restore the process to public view.[3] Other Bush supporters acknowledged they hoped to end the recount. "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."[11] The protest interfered with attendance by official observers and hindered access by members of the press.[13] In a radio interview in Albany on November 28, Sweeney said, "What I essentially told my people is, 'You've got to stop them'." "Whether I said, 'You've got to shut it down' or 'stop them,' I frankly don't quite recall."[3]

Several of the protestors were identified as Republican congressional staffers.[3][7] A number of the demonstrators later took jobs in the incoming Bush administration.[14]


A partial list:[14]


According to conversations leaked to The Washington Post by journalist and liberal activist Sarah Ashton-Cirillo—who had worked for the Nevada Republican Party under an assumed hard-right, Trumpist persona—a vice president at consultancy McShane LLC claimed that Republican congressman Paul Gosar was planning a "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Arizona to disrupt the counting of votes in the 2020 United States presidential election, and told Ashton-Cirillo to "get the Proud Boys out" for a similar event in Clark County, Nevada. Gosar denies having discussed any protests with the McShane vice president.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Gigot, Paul A. (November 24, 2000). "Miami Heat: A burgher rebellion in Dade County". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on February 16, 2006.
  2. ^ a b c Miller, Michael E. (November 15, 2018). "'It's insanity!': How the 'Brooks Brothers Riot' killed the 2000 recount in Miami". Washington Post.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Sweeney and the Siege of Miami", Slate, Timothy Noah, November 28, 2000. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  4. ^ Gigot, Paul A. (November 24, 2000). "Miami Heat: A burgher rebellion in Dade County". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on February 16, 2006.
  5. ^ a b c Dana Canedy, Dexter Filkins (November 23, 2000), "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
  6. ^ a b "'It's insanity!': How the 'Brooks Brothers Riot' killed the 2000 recount in Miami". The Washington Post. The county's Democratic Party chairman was worried that thousands of Miami-Dade ballots might have been affected by a voting machine glitch, potentially costing Gore the election.
  7. ^ a b c d "Mob Scene in Miami", Time, November 26, 2000
  8. ^ Pullizi, Henry J (August 4, 2009), "White House Brushes Off Health-Care Protests", The Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ Staba, David (August 22, 2006), "Race Profile: The 20th District in New York", The New York Times,
  10. ^ Lantigua, John (November 28, 2000): Miami's rent-a-riot Archived August 19, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Salon, Politics
  11. ^ a b c Dexter Filkins and Dana Canedy. "Protest Influenced Miami-Dade's Decision to Stop Recount", The New York Times, November 24, 2008
  12. ^ Joe Conason (December 3, 2000). "Right-Wingers Praise Antics of Bush Thugs" The New York Observer
  13. ^ Clary, Mike (December 2, 2000). "Miami Mayor Denies Gore Urged Him to Publicly Support Recount". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Kamen, Al (January 24, 2005). "Miami 'Riot' Squad: Where Are They Now?". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008.
  15. ^ Miami 'Riot' Squad: Where Are They Now?, Washington Post, January 24, 2005.
  16. ^ Manufactured Protesters Are Killing Democracy, Huffington Post, September 7, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  17. ^ Rood, Justin (April 19, 2006). "New WH Policy Chief Was "Brooks Brothers" Rioter". Talking Points Memo.
  18. ^ Gold, Ashley (March 27, 2019). "The People With Power on Facebook's Policy and Communications Team". The Information.
  19. ^ Heard on the Hill: Still a Riot, 10 Years Later[permanent dead link], Roll Call, Alison McSherry, November 15, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  20. ^ Matt Schlapp elected ACU chairman, Politico, Katie Glueck, June 19, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  21. ^ Reinhard, Beth (May 17, 2008). "Bush strategist shares insight on '00 recount". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  22. ^ Sarlin, Benjamin (November 20, 2008). "A GOP Dirty Trickster Has Second Thoughts". The Daily Beast.
  23. ^ Steve Brophy honored by Tennessee National Guard, Williamson Herald, Mindy Tate, January 22, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  24. ^ Scherer, Michael (June 2, 2021). "To build a crowd for a pro-Trump rally, Nevada GOP consultant sought help from Proud Boys". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 1330888409. Archived from the original on April 19, 2022. Retrieved August 9, 2022.