Blood Orange's Dev Hynes Talks About Facing Racism in Miami
Photo by Timothy Norris

Blood Orange's Dev Hynes Talks About Facing Racism in Miami

With success comes scrutiny. And Wynwood learned this the hard way back in February 2013. The up-and-coming neighborhood's growing popularity and reputation for all-night warehouse parties had landed it on the radar of some very powerful enemies.

With the support of the city's 24-hour downtown clubs, Miami Police raided more than 17 Wynwood establishments in what was referred to as Operation Dry Hour, a police sting meant to bust bars and clubs for selling liquor past 3 a.m. without the proper license.

On February 4, the Electric Pickle was one of the 17 businesses to get shut down by police. The Pickle's co-owner, Thomas Ceddia, was taken to jail, and the club didn't reopen for more than two months. But now another perspective has emerged from that night. In a recent interview with Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas, Blood Orange's Dev Hynes — who was performing at the Pickle when police raided it — told his own story of that night, and it's one that's probably all too familiar to Miami's people of color.

"They busted some club for not having a liquor license, but I was outside; I wasn’t inside" Hynes remembers. "And they were going inside and wouldn’t let people in. I was kind of doing what I’m doing now, but back then, I would do solo Blood Orange shows." He goes on to talk about his experience with a Miami Police officer outside the Pickle.

And I was like, “Oh, my stuff is inside, and I just need to go get it,” and there was this one… you know, one cop who was a dick, and he said, “No. Not going to happen.” And I was like “Oh, can you tell me like how long?” And he was like “No,” and then these two Miami white girls walked up and are like, “We really need to use the bathroom!” And he was like, “Yeah go right in, ladies.” I was full mouth-to-the-floor like, “What!” So I went up again. I said “Look man, I need to get my stuff, and I’m just gonna like leave. I have a flight back to New York in the morning.” And he was like, “That’s it!” Handcuffed me around the back, threw me in the back of the car, and then left me in the car for four hours, and I couldn’t do anything.

And at one point, this is the scary moment. An officer came and opened the door and bent down to me and was like, “Hey, man, it’s probably best if you just don’t say anything and, um, it should be cool…” and closes that door. And I was thinking “WHAT!? That doesn’t make me feel good!” You’re telling me to be quiet because the guy you work with is insane? What the fuck!?! It was so crazy.

But sadly, that wasn't the end of Hynes' experience with racism in the Magic City. The next day, he had another horrendous encounter with a couple of Miamians. 

That whole night. just till the next morning, so eventually I got let out, and I thought, “It’s done.” Then the next day, there was a mural of the Miami Heat. I’m not really a Miami Heat fan, but I wanted to take a picture in front of it to send to my friends. So I’m standing there; my friend has a camera. There are some people there taking pictures ahead of us. Two girls and two dudes. Whatever. It’s 11 a.m., and they’re taking pictures. Maybe five yards away. Then the girl, they’re all white, the girl then goes, “Take a picture of me. I can’t wait to show my friends a picture of me and all these niggas!” And she’s standing there. And then the guy and I were like, “Are you done?” And they walked away. So that was a 24-hour moment. 

The interview between Casablancas and Hynes was supposed to be published in Interview Magazine, but when the publication wanted to edit before posting, Hynes and Casablancas gave it to Oyster — which allegedly still edited the interview, to Hynes' dissatisfaction.

"I spoke about such personal things, things that weren’t easy for me because I thought that it could be helpful maybe for someone somewhere out there, as well as myself, and you just took it out… like it was nothing… nothing but a distraction to your own world distraction," Hynes posted on Tumblr. "You had a chance to really add to something and show people that there are real conversations taking place in the world right now, but you chose otherwise. And prove yet again that the censorship of a free-speaking Black man is of less value to you than retweets."

Casablancas eventually posted the full interview on his website.

We interviewed Hynes back in 2012 prior to his show at the Electric Pickle (a different night from the police incident). Asked what Miami could expect from his performance, Hynes replied, "We're all going to have lots of fun! Some naked girls in the style of Piña, pixelated beyond explosions of Antonioni. And lots of guitar solos."

It's a shame we couldn't show him the good time he gave us. 

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