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Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke takes on Miami Commissioner Richard Dunn's demands that city police enforce the county's curfew for those age 17 and under.
I'm going to give the Tea Party and other racists a break and write about my old friend and current District 5 Miami Commissioner Rev. Richard Dunn II. Well, at least I was still his friend before I supported his predecessor, Michelle Spence-Jones, and then Pierre Rutledge, who was vying with Dunn to be appointed to the commission.
It's been five months since Dunn took the dais, and his first significant act was to crack down on kids hanging out past the county curfew, which has been on the books since 1994 but rarely enforced. Dunn claims paying more attention to this law, which requires those under age 18 to be home before 11 p.m., will keep inner-city kids from getting into trouble. It comes on the heels of several shootings.
That was a bad move. When you start imposing curfews, you start messing with people's rights. Curfews are a parent's responsibility, not the government's. Enforcing them is a way to gain control over people, but we don't live in a communist country. Don't take my word for it. In 2004, the Florida Supreme Court ruled two similar curfew laws in Tampa and Pinellas Park were unconstitutional. The court found the laws unfairly targeted minorities and interfered with their rights.
Besides, enforcing the curfew in Miami does nothing if kids from the city are hanging out in places like Aventura and South Miami. In these places, police are not on high alert over kids on the street at night. If Dunn wants to get parents in his church congregation to tell kids when they should be home, that's fine. Yeah, kids shouldn't be out after a certain time, but it is not the government's job to keep tabs on them.
I think the reverend needs to go visit kids living in the projects. He needs to stay with them for a while. Let's see how much time he spends inside a stuffy, hot apartment that a kid has to share with his parents and three, four, or five other siblings.
These children usually live in homes with no air conditioning and no cable television. They don't want to be sweating inside a cramped house at 10 or 11 p.m. in the middle of summer. That's why a lot of them hang out on their front stoops. Maybe if Dunn wants to pay for them to have air conditioning and cable, a curfew would be OK.
If Dunn wants to get children to behave, he should be concentrating on what he can do to fix the neighborhoods in District 5. He needs to focus on revitalizing the parks and building some affordable recreation. He should find ways to fix the baseball fields and put in roller rinks. District 5's leader should be helping business owners in the community spruce up their stores so people can take pride in their neighborhoods. Let's work on bringing jazz clubs, teen discos, Starbucks, and outdoor cafés to Liberty City. Give adults and children who obey the law a place to do and enjoy good things. Then the police can concentrate on weeding out the criminals, including the little thugs.
Dunn needs to stop putting a Band-Aid on this area. Ultimately, it is up to him to see the bigger picture and really fix our community.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.