The Quiet Riot

You've described the boycott movement as a "quiet riot." How do you place this boycott in the historical context of the past decade, during which Miami has seen four race riots? Is this a new antidote or alternative to rioting, or could it be something that, if it fails decisively, might start another riot?

One thing we've learned in the past ten years is that riots don't work. We know for a fact that leaving riots and going on to boycotts, leaving rioting behind us, is the right thing to do. We know that boycotts have worked before, so we'll try it.

I would hope that elected officials and political leaders and the masses of people in the community would see that we're trying to provide a nonviolent way of venting the hurt and the humiliation that the masses of people have felt. The reason I call it an economic riot is because I want the average person on the street, who may even have participated in the riots, to feel like, "Hey, we've got something going now that will work. We've found a way to get some respect and get a piece of what we deserve."

Will you add a more visible component to this boycott? Do you plan marches around the Eden Roc? Picketing at City Hall?

We haven't gone to that phase yet. We have hundreds of T-shirts, bumper stickers, posters, that sort of thing. We were trying to wait until after the election to go into this phase. And quietly we've been hoping that business leaders and political leaders would understand that we're serious and do what is necessary so that we can work this thing out before it gets much more serious. We don't want to devastate our own economy. But if forced to continue the boycott, then we don't have any alternative.

There are three phases of the boycott: One, national black conventions, which has been phenomenally successful. Two, local black individuals and organizations. And three, reaching out toward other organizations. Some of them have already contacted us. We've been holding them off, because once that starts, it's going to be very, very hard to stop. We've had two labor groups and one women's group contact us saying they want to join. We've said, "Please don't. Don't make any announcement, don't do anything right now." Because once that starts, it's going to be irreversible. The damage will take ten years to repair. We don't want to do that. We want to use the least amount of pressure, the least amount of persuasion, the least amount of economic-sanction activity to get the job done.

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