Uncle Luke, 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. Today, Luke is outraged over the treatment of African-Americans in Miami Beach.
Once again Miami Beach did a helluva of a job making sure African Americans don't feel welcome in the city. For the second straight year, the city's police department turned South Beach into a militarized zone to handle the 300,000-plus predominantly black visitors who come down for Memorial Day Weekend. With the help of the Miami-Dade Police Department, they installed cameras throughout the city, 62 light towers, three watch towers, and barricades along the sidewalks of Washington and Collins Avenues. Roughly 400 officers from multiple agencies were deployed to keep the crowds in check.
I was down there myself and saw three young black men riding mopeds get pulled over for no reason. A 14-year-old boy holding a puppy was put in a chokehold in Haulover Park by a Miami-Dade cop for allegedly giving him "dehumanizing stares." And the cops put 414 people in jail. That is more than double the number of arrests made over the two weekends of Ultra Music Festival earlier this year.
It's not because Memorial Day weekend revelers are rowdier than the ravers who descend on Miami Beach for Miami Music Week. It's because there are more police on the street bent on locking people up for insignificant crimes that are ignored except during the last weekend in May.
All these measures are designed to make African-Americans feel uncomfortable so they don't come back next year. Hell, I felt more welcome in the city when I was a kid going to school at Fienberg Fisher Elementary and Miami Beach Senior High. Back then, African Americans had to leave Miami Beach by sundown.
Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower, along with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the African-American county commissioners should be ashamed of themselves for condoning the police department's Memorial Day weekend military operation. Black activists and elected officials should be outraged. They should be calling for another national boycott of the city like they did in 1991 when local Anglo and Cuban-American leaders snubbed Nelson Mandela. Every black politician from Congresswoman Fredrica Wilson to county commissioners Audrey Edmonson, Barbara Jordan, Dennis Moss, and Jean Monestime should demand the U.S. Justice Department come down and investigate the city for violating people's civil rights.
Instead, they all sit back and say nothing when Miami Beach goes to County Hall asking for in-kind police services and support. Taxpayers should not foot the bill to racially profile people who are coming down here to have a good time just like the crowds that come to Miami Beach for Miami Music Week, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and the international boat show.
I guess the only way to get these politicians to do something about it is by hiring high-powered lobbyist Ron Book to tell them they need to be upset. That's the only way things get done around here.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.