Tensions between police-reform activists and law enforcement could not be higher today. Cops shot two nonviolent black men dead this week on film. A Dallas sniper gunned down 11 officers during a police brutality protest last night, killing five.
So when Dashana Honore, a 26-year-old resident of Ives Estates in Miami-Dade County, decided to organize a Black Lives Matter march outside Miami Gardens City Hall on July 16, she said her first step was choosing a location that felt safe for everyone — protesters and police.
"I have a 1-year-old son named Noah that I want to bring," she says. "I want him to be able to run around."
She eventually settled on Miami Gardens, which, by her estimation, is the "most approachable" department in the county. "I feel more comfortable with them," she says. "I feel the safest there — I know things won't escalate. In Miami Gardens, they don't abuse their power or think they're God."
Much like Nina Jennings, a Homestead high-schooler organizing a separate protest in Miami this month, Honore says she started ranting on Facebook about the killing of Baton Rouge's Alton Sterling after video of his death went viral two days ago.
"I was pissed off," she says. "You should write that in big, capital letters. I figured, the first couple of times these videos got posted, maybe there’s a little bit of reasonable doubt. But his arms and hands were pinned down. The camera was so clear, so crisp, there was no way they could spin it."
And, also like Jennings, Honore says her friends began responding, demanding that she help organize a protest to do something more than just fire off angry Facebook posts into a void. She formed a Facebook group — called "New Day Revolution" — and started debating what to do. The group now has 190 confirmed members, and Honore says more than 200 people have told her they plan to join the protest.
If there's ever a town that needs police reform, it's Miami: A November 2015 study showed that in Miami-Dade County, unarmed black residents are 22 times more likely to be shot by police than unarmed white ones.
Though she doesn't have a route planned yet, she says the protest will begin at Miami Gardens City Hall and march through the nearby streets before "making a circle" back to where the demonstration began. She says she has also reached out to Miami Gardens Police Chief Antonio Brooklen and says she plans to meet with Brooklen next Wednesday to discuss march logistics.
(An assistant in Brooklen's office told New Times he was unavailable for the day, and a city public information officer did not immediately return New Times' call.)
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Honore says she's also in the process of applying for a permit from the city. "I want to have a loudspeaker," she says, "but I don't want to get shut down."
Honore says she has also asked North Miami Commissioner Alix Desulme to speak. (Desulme is out of the country and could not be reached.)
As for the protest's message, Honore offers this: "No more excuses," she says. "No more, 'Oh, the camera’s not working.' If we get the police chief to speak, I don't want him to do any 'police dance' — I want them to say stuff we can actually relate to."