The First 48 Keeps Miami's Inner City Neighborhoods in the Dumps
Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness 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 goes after one of the most watched shows on cable television.
I've never been a big fan of the First 48, the reality-TV show that follows homicide investigators working cases that is now in its 12th season. The Miami Police Department is one of nine law enforcement agencies that allows Hollywood-based ITV Studios to film detectives working furiously to solve a murder within the first two days of finding a body. My problem is that the majority of the Miami homicides depicted on the First 48 inevitably originate in Overtown, Liberty City, Little Haiti, and other inner-city neighborhoods.
The show is essentially propaganda. The First 48 brainwashes a national cable television audience into believing these places are war zones they should avoid if they ever visit the Magic City. The episodes are like public service announcements telling the world: "Don't come here. Stay in Brickell, Coconut Grove, or downtown Miami."
Just imagine a family in Omaha, Nebraska, about to make a decision of where to stay in the Magic City, watching Miami homicide Det. Kevin Ruggiero arrive at the scene of an 18-year-old African-American shot in the head while riding a jitney bus. It's not just potential tourists being warned. No major corporation or entrepreneur would dare open a new business in Overtown or Liberty City after seeing all the violence plastered on the First 48.
The First 48 is part of the media propaganda machine to keep certain places down. Just look at Miami Gardens. The city is home to Sun Life Stadium, home to the Miami Dolphins and dozens of cultural events, year round, including one of best contemporary music festivals in the country, Jazz in the Gardens. It is a great place for a Fortune 500 company to build something and create jobs. But you wouldn't know that from watching the local news programs.
Right now, TV stations advertise Miami Gardens as the murder capital of the world. The politicians who have used the city to further their careers need to wake up. They are not doing enough to use Jazz in the Gardens as a promotional vehicle. Instead, they're just standing around in a tent admiring themselves. They need to have a plan in place like Aventura, a city where the politicians decided the best way to attract new money was to expand its major retail mall and bring in major luxury brand names.
That's the type of leadership cities like Miami Gardens, Opa-locka, Miami, Homestead, and Florida City lack. You need people to bring in major corporations that will create jobs.
Everybody wants to start his own city, but none of these elected officials knows how to run them.
The local media outlets and the First 48 producers don't do anything to address the ills that make these places so bleak. It provides no context to why so many people are killing one another in Overtown, Liberty City, and Little Haiti. I'd like to see them do a reality show about the lobbyists and their puppet politicians who sell out the community to accused criminals like Dennis Stackhouse, the Boston developer who falsely promised to build a $250 million bio pharmaceutical park in Liberty City just so he could double-bill Miami-Dade County for $500,000.
The City of Miami allows the First 48 producers to profit from the blood of a predominantly poor, African-American constituency. City leaders should be telling First 48's show runners to turn off the cameras. In fact, poitical leaders need to wake up, from Miami Gardens to Florida City, to the fact that we are all part of a tourist destination.
Every city has to concentrate on doing things that attract visitors and major corporations, not make them run for the hills.
Follow Uncle Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.