Urban Beach Weekend: Luke wants the party

C. Stiles

Luther "Luke" 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 announces plans to reclaim Memorial Day weekend in Miami Beach.

Six months ago, a young man died and seven people were injured, including three cops, in a police-involved shooting during Memorial Day weekend in Miami Beach. During the past decade, police have made 4,213 arrests during the three-day holiday, sending tourists to jail on charges ranging from drinking in public to carrying illegal firearms. More than 200 guns were seized between 2006 and 2008 alone.

So over the summer, I met with Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower about bringing some stability and organization to what has come to be known as Urban Beach Weekend. She's been catching a lot of flak from political opponents in the runup to the city's November elections. Her adversaries mistakenly believe Miami Beach can dictate who visits Ocean Drive, Washington Avenue, and Lincoln Road during a holiday. Pot-loving candidate Steve Berke even wants to offer veterans discounted rates at hotels, restaurants, and shops to encourage more servicepeople to visit our sunny shores. He thinks more vets, along with a new air-and-sea show, will discourage the so-called urban crowd from returning to Miami Beach for Memorial Day.

Berke doesn't realize that some African-Americans believe urban is just a nice way of calling someone the N-word. And his proposal sounds like a veiled attempt at selective segregation. No one in Miami Beach can figure out how to curtail the outrageous violence and vandalism that mars every Memorial Day without discriminating against black people.

Berke's plan certainly won't fly with Beach businesses that secretly enjoy the economic benefits from the predominantly African-American crowd during the slow summer months. Heck, there are some nightclubs and hotels that encourage a thug element because they know thugs spend money recklessly — buying five tables, each one with limitless bottles of Rozay and Cîroc.

Mayor Bower values my opinion. I consider Miami Beach a second home. I attended school there and owned Luke's, the first black-owned nightclub in the city. When I was making music videos, I introduced the world to our beautiful beaches. She recognizes my strong passion for Miami Beach.

When Bower and I spoke, she agreed to work with me to start a music festival like Umoja, which I created in 2002. Remember? That was when residents first complained about the unruly tourists who came down for Memorial Day festivities. Maybe Berke wants to join us in staging an event that both honors veterans and celebrates Miami Beach's diversity.

After all, who wouldn't support an all-inclusive, classy weekend that goes smoothly?

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