Alleged Gang War Has Liberty City Under Deadly Siege

This afternoon, Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones and Miami New Times columnist Luther Campbell are meeting with Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa to ask him what he is doing to address a violent gang war that has enveloped Liberty City over the past three months. "We're going to ask him what the hell is going on," Campbell says. "The violence has gotten out of control."

Police spokesman Napier Velazquez confirmed the sit-down.

On Monday night, Miami Police were searching for an SUV involved in a fatal shooting of a person in the 1000 block of NW 55th Street, not too far from Spence-Jones's home. She could not be reached for comment. Miami police have also not released the victim's name. Then, at 3:30 a.m. today, unknown suspects in a silver Toyota RAV4 rolled up on two men and shot them adjacent to a home at 132 NE 64th St., where Miami-Dade detectives were serving a warrant in an unrelated case. The cops fired at the SUV, but it sped away.

In the June 6 edition of the Miami Times, Miami police homicide detective Sgt. Ervens Ford told the black-owned newspaper that Liberty City could be in for "one of the bloodiest summers on record." In the article, Ford said a string of undocumented murders at the Liberty Square projects, the 753-unit public housing apartment complex commonly known as Pork & Beans, are the result of "feuds between young men who associate themselves with gangs." Ford did not disclose the names of the gangs, but he claimed there is an all-out campaign to force young men in Liberty City to join one side or the other. "The potential for significant and constant bloodshed is sure to rise," Ford told the Miami Times.

Unfortunately, the turf war has claimed several innocent bystanders. On May 31, 28-year-old Jerod Givens was shot multiple times. According to Ford's account in the Miami Times, Givens was not a gang member. He in fact had a criminal record, including a string of felony arrests between 2003 and 2006 for resisting arrest with violence, armed robbery, and intent to sell cocaine. But Ford told the Miami Times that Givens had turned his life around. The victim had recently landed a job at Marlins Park, and he would walk his boys to school from their Liberty Square apartment every school day.

A month later, on June 27, another shooting, at 6900 NW 15th Ave., claimed the life of a 16-year-old boy and Greyston Garcia, a Miami man who had beaten a murder charge under Florida's controversial self-defense law. Garcia had taken a job as a cashier at an all-night convenience store in Liberty City. While on his way back to the store after getting change at a nearby gas station, Garcia was hit by an errant bullet from a firefight.

Campbell tells Riptide that a volunteer coach with the Liberty City Optimist Club was also caught in a hail of bullets meant for someone else. He declined to name the victim. "The shooters killed the guy they were aiming for, but the coach got caught in the line of fire," Campbell says. "He's lucky to be alive."

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