VMA Weekend

Jean Luc Godard, meet Busta

It's 4:42 a.m. Saturday, August 27, when one, two, three, four, five police cars on westbound MacArthur Causeway simultaneously flash their blue lights. Perhaps a carnivorous sea turtle has emerged from Biscayne Bay. Maybe a volcano has risen from the depths. Or Diddy has landed in his Buck Rogers backpack.

We should be so lucky. They're here for us.

I'm comfortably ensconced alone in the back seat of a white 2003 Land Rover Discovery, and I know how much I've had to drink tonight -- five Bacardi Limóns on the rocks and one vodka soda, all compliments of various corporate sponsors at MTV Video Music Award events. But I can't vouch for the now nervous driver, Manuel Aguilar. He pulls over and turns off the engine. A moment of silence follows, then the stern order of a disembodied female voice through a bullhorn. "Driver, exit the vehicle and walk backward from the car with your hands in the air," it says. When he turns around in disbelief, she repeats, with an edge, "I said backward. "


Slowly my friend takes fifteen paces backward.

Wait -- I squint. Are those guns? And now he's kneeling, an officer handcuffing him. In the front seat, my friend Mazik mutters a few obscenities. Again the bullhorn summons: "Front passenger ... ," and he's out the door, hands skyward. I watch my two companions disappear into a blue-lit vortex.

Finally, I'm told to put my hands in the air -- and I'm too scared to bother closing the car door when I exit. There are at least a half-dozen firearms aimed at me, peeking out from behind bullet-proof windows and open doors, fingers on triggers. I walk backward slowly, carefully, conscious of the eerie stillness. I can hear the palm trees rustle.

The bullhorn tells me to kneel. I kneel. A lady cop in shorts snaps a pair of handcuffs on my wrists. She pats me down, searches my untidy purse. She leads me by the elbow to the back of a squad car, where I sit next to a pizza box.

Miami Beach police were out in force VMA weekend. Only 24 hours after my friends and I were stopped, someone plugged rapper Suge Knight. Now the celebrities have returned to Beverly Hills and the tourists to Short Hills (New Jersey). The liquor bottles are empty and the award parties just drunken memories. But out there on I-395, in the nebulous hours between night and day, I learned that the Beach can get ugly. So did many others. What follows is a list of the best run-ins with the law during VMA weekend.

Saturday 1:53 a.m., Mansion, 1235 Washington Ave.: Marcus Andrews, age 23, of Miami, is cut in the mouth by flying bottles in the VIP area. Nobody is arrested.

2:17 a.m., First Street and Collins Avenue: Plantation resident Wilbur Martinez, 41 years old, backs into a parking spot and strikes a pedestrian with his black 2005 Hummer H2. Police note that Martinez has "droopy eyelids" and charge him with driving under the influence.

4:31 a.m., Seventh Street and Washington Avenue: Shots are fired from a silver Range Rover eleven minutes before my friends and I are stopped. A Winchester casing is recovered at the scene. Suspects are "probably" white Latin males. Silver Range Rover, White Land Rover. Hell, it's dark out.

4:40 a.m., MacArthur Causeway: Another Range Rover (white) is pulled over. Michelle Garcia and Alisa Casey, both females in their midtwenties, dressed in "halter top/jeans," get the Rover treatment.

4:45 a.m., MacArthur Causeway: The policewoman is asking me questions:

"Where are you coming from?" The Shore Club.

"Did anybody get in a fight?" There was a little tiff at the club.

"Were there weapons involved?" I certainly didn't have any weapons.

"Did your friends have weapons?" I didn't think so.

4:47 a.m., MacArthur Causeway: The lady cop leaves me alone with the pizza box.

6:36 a.m., 22nd Street and the Miami Beach Boardwalk: Police respond to a call regarding "four or five men fighting with sticks." One juvenile is taken into custody for battery and resisting arrest.

8:00 a.m., First Street and Ocean Drive: Raymond Jones, age 28, of Chicago, wakes up in the street, his wallet and $6000 diamond Rolex missing. He "claims he fell asleep on the public street," cops say. "When he awoke, the above items were gone. Victim did not hear, see, or feel anything during his slumber. Victim did not call the police immediately but took a cab first. When asked why he did not call police as soon as he woke up, victim stated, 'I don't know. I'm from Chicago.'"

12:41 p.m., Eighth Street and Euclid Avenue: José Garcia, age 57, and Enna Dieppa, age 43, both residents of Miami Beach, observe 23-year-old Weston resident Michelle Grant removing items from the trunk of Garcia's Geo Prizm.

Garcia: "What do you think you're doing?"

Grant: "This is my Chevy Lumina. Leave me alone."

Grant is, well, arrested.

2:55 p.m., Seacoast Suites Hotel, 5101 Collins Ave.: Harold Pracht, 56 years old, of Munich, Germany, descends from his room to visit with family by the pool. Upon attempting to reenter the lobby, he discovers it is locked. As is only natural, Pracht kicks in the glass door.

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