Feuding Lawmakers Brawl in Miami
Friday, September 8th 2000, 12:00 am
News On 6
MIAMI (AP) â€” Two Republican legislators from feuding political clans traded punches in a radio station parking lot after a family member made disparaging remarks on the air following Florida's primary election.
The host of a popular Spanish-language radio show pleaded for someone to call police. Hundreds of listeners did â€” crashing the city's 911 system, The Miami Herald reported Thursday.
The brawl started early Wednesday outside WAQI-AM, Radio Mambi, as the station was broadcasting final Miami-Dade County election counts. Carlos Lacasa suffered a bloody nose and fellow state Rep. Renier Diaz de la Portilla came out with a torn shirt.
According to police, witnesses and the combatants, the fight started after former Miami commissioner Armando Lacasa blasted the Diaz de la Portillas on the show.
``I may have made some money off popcorn, but at least I didn't make it off drug dealing,'' Lacasa told listeners. The references were to the arrest 20 years ago of Diaz de la Portilla's father on marijuana charges, later dismissed, and a much criticized contract for Lacasa to sell popcorn at Miami International Airport.
Renier Diaz de la Portilla was listening to the show as he left the post-election party of the failed mayoral run of his brother, Miguel.
He raced to Radio Mambi, pulled into the parking lot and began yelling and knocking on the door. ``I wanted equal time to defend my father,'' he said.
Commentator Martha Flores said she heard loud banging and panicked.
``Hail Mary, Mother of God, the Diaz de la Portillas are out there!'' she screamed over the air, according to Eduardo Lacasa, who was listening with his brother Carlos.
``It was so loud you could hear banging on the door and then (her producer) says, 'They want to beat up Armando Lacasa!' Then the studio goes dead â€” and they start playing that elevator music.''
The Lacasa brothers and campaign supporters then hurried to the station. ``All I could imagine was this picture of our 64-year-old father on the floor getting kicked,'' Eduardo Lacasa said.
Renier Diaz de la Portilla was still banging on the door when he heard the Lacasas arrived. Each says the other threw the first punch.
``I hit him with a right hook,'' Renier Diaz de la Portilla said. ``Self defense.''
Not so, Carlos Lacasa said. ``I was not the aggressor.''
Supporters eventually peeled them apart. But by that time Flores, the radio commentator, had already said over the airwaves: ``Call the police and ask them to come to the station!' ''
Flores said the comment was directed at a station reporter, but hundreds of listeners thought she was talking to them. They flooded 911, causing it to go down for 10 minutes, police said.
Officers arrived at the station and spoke to witnesses, and civility seemed to return as dawn arrived.
No charges were filed.