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Ultra Music Festival: Be fair to African-Americans

C. Stiles

Luther Campbell, 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 wonders when Miami and Miami Beach city officials will crack down on rowdy ravers.

The video shows a large crowd gathering around a pair of Miami Beach police officers who are trying to subdue a couple resisting arrest on the sand near First Street and Ocean Drive. The drunk partygoers yell at one of the cops after he slams the woman to the ground. "That's some pussy-ass shit," one guy says.

Three young men get in the face of the other officer, who has the boyfriend in a choke hold. Had this incident happened during Memorial Day weekend, there would have been platoons of police officers responding to the scene. Miami Beach residents would have used the ruckus as another reason to ban African-Americans from the city for the three-day holiday.

But the melee came during last year's Ultra Music Festival, the electronic music extravaganza that begins March 23 and brings thousands of young, predominantly white partygoers to our sunny shores.

Yet the police presence for Ultra is nothing compared to the number of cops on the streets during Memorial Day, which last year led to two police-involved shootings during what has become known as Urban Beach Week. One man died and seven people were injured, including three cops, in one of the incidents.

There's one difference: Memorial Day draws more African-Americans.

This year, the parties are gonna be going strong for almost two weeks. Yet no one in Miami Beach has suggested there's a problem with the hordes of pill-popping ravers who turn the city into a huge drug den. There won't be any complaints from condo dwellers about the barrage of techno music. You won't see police task forces running stings to bust all the tourists with drugs.

Where is the community group to stop Ultra Music Festival? Oh, that's right, it's a problem only when the party people have a darker skin color, even though their tourism dollars help Miami Beach businesses survive during the slow summer months. The city and its inhabitants should welcome Memorial Day weekend partiers the same way they roll out the red carpet for spring breakers and house music fans.

African-American visitors deserve the same level of respect.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.


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