Miami Gardens, the city that's home to Sun Life Stadium and one of Florida's highest crime rates, has had a wrenchingly difficult week. Days after police fatally shot a mentally ill man armed with a broom, city leaders are now dealing with an apparent hate crime.
Yesterday, someone spray-painted "KKK" symbols -- along with phrases like "move out" -- around Miami Gardens. City leaders and civil rights activists this morning are calling for justice.
"We condemn this vandalism," Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Florida Regional Director Hava Holzhauer said in statement to New Times. "We urge law enforcement to investigate this as a potential hate crime, as well as for all members of the community to publicly denounce this hateful vandalism."
The graffiti was found in at least five locations around Miami Gardens, a predominantly African-American city.
— Bobby Brooks (@BobbyBrooksNBC6) February 19, 2015
— Oralia Ortega (@oraliaortega) February 18, 2015
Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson told reporters that the department is treating the graffiti as a grave crime. "Prank or no prank, we are going to be treating this very seriously," he told the media.
A police spokesman told New Times this morning that no new information has emerged in the case.
The ADL, though, says that whoever left the graffiti had one goal in mind: intimidating residents in their own homes.
"[It was likely] someone within the community who seeks to instill fear in a particular group with the intent of pushing them out of the neighborhood," Holzhauer says.
The crime comes as Johnson scrambles to deal with outrage over Monday's shooting of Lavall Hall, a schizophrenic man whose mother had called police for help during an episode. Hall was shot and killed when he used a broom handle to attack two officers.
Anti-police-violence activists have seized on the death as the latest in the #BlackLivesMatter campaign on Twitter and Facebook, while Johnson has been quick to defend the officers involved.
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook.
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.