In the past year, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez positioned herself as a liberal fighting for the rights of disadvantaged black and brown Americans. At a protest against Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's decision to comply with President Trump's sanctuary-city ban, Rosen Gonzalez swore to protect the city's massive population of people of color, repeatedly telling Gimenez that Miami is a "city of immigrants." She also spoke out against Trump and the current Republican Party at the Miami Women's March and a February 23 protest organized by the anti-Trump group Indivisible.
But in an email sent over the weekend, Rosen Gonzalez made a startling about-face, and now appears to be advocating policies directly proven to harm those same immigrants and people of color. On Tuesday, she sent City Manager Jimmy Morales a stream of comments demanding the city roll back its police body-camera program and implying that police be able to shoot more people.
"We need to give the cops back their bullets, remove their body cams, give them their dignity, and let them work all the off hours stuff they want," Rosen Gonzalez in the May 30, which was first reported by the Miami Herald and also obtained by New Times.
She also bit into Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates, and claimed he's "failing at leading his troops" and said he would be better suited running the Palm Beach Police Department, rather than Miami Beach.
The leaked email is likely to infuriate criminal-justice reform advocates and activists for black-rights — an ill-advised move, considering that Rosen Gonzalez, a Democrat, is running to replace retiring U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Washington.
Puzzlingly, Rosen Gonzalez's request to give cops back their bullets came after Miami Beach Police shot and killed an assailant — with real bullets — after a different Miami father was killed in Miami Beach this weekend over a parking spot.
Minutes after she spoke to New Times (without apologizing for her comments at all), she then posted an apology to her Facebook page.
"I want to apologize for the way I phrased this," she wrote. "This is part of a broader discussion and I want to put the dignity back into law enforcement and allow the police to keep the residents safe. I want trust levels to be raised, and I want the people of Miami Beach to feel safe."
Before posting that apology, Rosen Gonzalez doubled down on her remarks, saying that she's heard from cops that body cameras are discouraging officers from arresting criminals at drug-riddled hot-spots like Ocean Drive.
"There are thugs on the streets," she said. "There are people selling drugs openly on the streets in plain view when you walk down Ocean Drive. Why is that happening?" She guessed that it's because cops equipped with body cameras are now afraid to do their jobs.
Rather than firing cops who refuse to enforce the law when they're being recorded, she instead opined that if the cameras make some officers squeamish about enforcing the law, it's the cameras that need to go.
"Before I even wrote that email, I spoke to 50, 60 people," she said. "People on the streets, parents, business owners, tourists, everyone. One restaurant owner said he heard from a local cop that, if he sees someone dealing drugs while he's wearing a body camera, he's gonna let it slide."
She then later contradicted herself and said some of the statements in her email were a "metaphor," and that she was also advocating for more "community policing." (Community policing, we should note, involves less use of guns, and instead encourages cops to walk around in local neighborhoods and get to know residents.)
When asked what she meant by "give the cops back their bullets," she doubled-down on her remarks.
"They’ve been given sandbags, or rubber pellets, and are facing people with real guns with real bullets in them," she said. "How would you feel if you were armed with rubber bullets?" (All Miami Beach Police officers still carry handguns, but some have been equipped with shotguns that dispel rubber sandbags. But police did fatally shoot a man involved in last weekend's Ocean Drive shootout.)
"It's my job as commissioner to make sure Miami Beach is a safe place," she said, citing a recent case in which a woman was pistol-whipped in Miami Beach during a robbery. "Right now, people don’t feel very safe in Miami Beach."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In a Facebook post written after Rosen Gonzalez spoke with New Times, she then apologized for her comments in the email.
In the end, Rosen Gonzalez's comments are yet another case of the Florida Democratic Party shooting itself in the foot for absolutely no reason. The Republican Party is in free-fall right now thanks to Donald Trump, and yet Democrats in South Florida have recently seen state Rep. Daisy Baez drop out of a state senate race after getting caught living in the wrong district, and now Rosen Gonzalez advocating shooting local "thugs" while #Resisting Trump.
Time will tell if fellow Democratic Congressional candidate Jose Javier Rodriguez can run a full race for a House seat without shoving his foot down his own throat.