Lawmakers Brawl at Radio Station

ByABC News

M I A M I, Sept. 7, 2000 -- 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 forsomeone to call police. Hundreds of listeners did — crashing thecity’s 911 system, The Miami Herald reported today.

The brawl started early Wednesday outside WAQI-AM, Radio Mambi,as the station was broadcasting final Miami-Dade County electioncounts. 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 fightstarted after former Miami Commissioner Armando Lacasa blasted theDiaz de la Portillas on the show.

“I may have made some money off popcorn, but at least I didn’tmake it off drug dealing,” Lacasa told listeners. The referenceswere to the arrest 20 years ago of Diaz de la Portilla’s father onmarijuana charges, later dismissed, and a much criticized contractfor Lacasa to sell popcorn at Miami International Airport.

Renier Diaz de la Portilla was listening to the show as he leftthe post-election party of the failed mayoral run of his brother,Miguel.

He raced to Radio Mambi, pulled into the parking lot and beganyelling and knocking on the door. “I wanted equal time to defendmy father,” he said.

Commentator Martha Flores said she heard loud banging andpanicked.

“Hail Mary, Mother of God, the Diaz de la Portillas are outthere!” 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 — and they start playing that elevatormusic.”

Friends Rush to the Scene

The Lacasa brothers and campaign supporters then hurried to thestation. “All I could imagine was this picture of our 64-year-oldfather on the floor getting kicked,” Eduardo Lacasa said.

Renier Diaz de la Portilla was still banging on the door when heheard the Lacasas arrived. Each says the other threw the firstpunch.

“I hit him with a right hook,” Renier Diaz de la Portillasaid. “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, andcivility seemed to return as dawn arrived.

No charges were filed.

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