This past September 8, shortly after 9 p.m., things were tense in Gibson Park's new football stadium in Overtown. There were three minutes left in the first quarter of a football game between teams of 11- and 12-year-olds from the Overtown Community Optimist Club and the Northwest Boys & Girls Club. Then shots were fired. Fans and players scattered for cover. In the end, three people were wounded. One of them, Noonie Jenkins, tried to restrain the alleged shooter, who is still at large.
A week later, the city provided plenty of cops on foot and on horseback for the youth football games. And that was fine.
But now the city is surrendering.
Youth football leagues have been ordered to start all of their games before 5 p.m. so there are no kids playing in the parks after sunset. Lara DeSouza, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation, confirmed the new rule in an email: "Ideally they would be concluding before it gets dark," she said. "That is the only change we have made since the shooting that occurred at Gibson Park."
This is happening because there is no trust. Ever since Miami police officers were publicly rebuked for fatally shooting seven unarmed black men last year, the department has been wary of pursuing the criminals terrorizing our parks. So some public-housing residents must live under the same roof as armed ex-convicts. Terrorists selling drugs, shooting innocent bystanders, and killing each other all reside in public-housing complexes such as the Liberty Square projects in Liberty City and the Annie Coleman apartments in Brownsville.
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But the majority of citizens in Overtown and Liberty City are honest people who want the police to conduct real investigations to lock away these gangbangers. So instead of curtailing the hours children can be on the playground or the football field, the city should implement a zero-tolerance policy for people carrying guns in parks.
That is the only way Miami can reclaim its parks for the kids.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.