Hope was passed back and forth between Opa-locka and Miami-Dade police officers, who shared security duties at the event. Tears streamed down the businesswoman's face as a female Miami-Dade officer leaned over her, yelling, "Money back or jail? Money back or jail? You decide!"
That, of course, was no choice at all. But ultimately Hope was not allowed to choose. Opa-locka police officers charged her with three misdemeanors: criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest without violence. She was taken in handcuffs to the county jail and then transferred to a women's detention facility in downtown Miami, where she was made to remove her head wrap and wait until a friend could post the $150 bond.
Miami Carnival could cost Merissa Hope more than $1200, but she missed the party
Hope's $15 Carnival admission was never returned, and now she faces $1250 in fines. Will she sink another $800 into a vendor's booth next year? "For the sake of my business, I may consider sending my partner to set up a booth," Hope says pragmatically. "As for myself, apart from business, [Miami Carnival] poses a kind of fear. Personally I would not want to be a spectator."