Letters from the Issue of May 23, 2002

Party Pooper

Memorial Day will be a disaster: In response to Rebecca Wakefield's story "Anatomy of a Party" (May 9), I see disaster coming on Memorial Day weekend, a disaster in which everyone loses and no one wins. Are the Miami Beach town fathers so greedy they have to invite back a proven group of hooligans for more chaos on the streets?

I am a long-time visitor and resident of South Beach, and I was here last Memorial Day weekend trying to walk down the street to a local bar for a drink with a friend. What I saw happening I never want to see again. I had falsely hoped the leadership of the community would take action against any group that encouraged disobedience -- regardless of race, creed, or color -- but I was wrong. I guess I'll have to vote with my feet and my money next time.

Wayne Howington

Miami Beach

Party Animals

Memorial Day is for thugs: Sorry, but I don't quite understand why the City of Miami Beach must go to great lengths to train police officers in "cultural sensitivity" when essentially all it translates to is approval for a bunch of punks to riot and then sue for discrimination if not allowed to wreak havoc on Beach citizens and their property. Being black and drunk and stupidly violent does not absolve you of the obligation to follow the law.

You want to accuse me of racism? Go right ahead. I believe that anyone who engages in the kind of mindless violence and destructive behavior witnessed last year -- whether they're Cubans, blacks, or whatever -- forfeits the right to yell "racism" or "discrimination" when cops bust their heads and throw them in the hoosegow. That's exactly what thugs and lowlifes deserve. If the good Bishop Victor Curry disagrees, so be it. I doubt that anyone associated with the NAACP would approve of such behavior.

The potential for a disaster is real, and no amount of "cultural sensitivity" or hand-wringing about racism or hip-hop discrimination will protect the citizens who will cower in their homes while the shitheads and loudmouth scumbags descend on that fair city. The comparison with Fort Lauderdale and its former spring-break problem is apt. Nobody cried discrimination when a bunch of drunken, loutish white college students were banned by law from their stupid, excessive behavior in Fort Lauderdale during spring break. Last time I looked, the city was still there and doing well.

Rick Gonzalez

Miami Lakes

Party People

Memorial Day isn't about blacks or whites, it's about plain old people: People need to stop tiptoeing around in hopes of avoiding racial criticism regarding Memorial Day on South Beach. If you feel the need to use racial terms to articulate certain frustrations, well, by golly that smells like racism to me. If Miami Beach wants to avoid being labeled as a city that discriminates, then it shouldn't discriminate. If people are creating disturbances or breaking laws, they should be dealt with accordingly. That's not discrimination; that's simply preserving the integrity of the city and upholding its laws.

I fail to see how skin color was relevant to the behavior of some of last year's Memorial Day visitors. What was so upsetting about last year? Was it the rowdiness, the loud noise, the trash, the drinking? Or was it the skin color of the individuals involved? If it had been a predominantly white crowd on the Beach engaging in the exact same activities, would business owners have been scratching their heads and lamenting, "Damn white kids!"?

It's not that blacks get upset over simple accusations. Blacks get upset by the fact that whenever a problem is caused by a black person or group of black people, the community and the media (including Rebecca Wakefield in "Anatomy of a Party") make a point of highlighting the fact that the skin color of the alleged perpetrators is black, thereby incriminating black skin. Race is never mentioned if the perpetrators involved are white. For example, during the violence and bloodshed that occurred at Woodstock 1994, nobody uttered these words: "Those unruly white kids." There was no mention of race in association with the violence.

If people open their hearts and eyes wide enough to see actions, events, and human beings for what they truly are, race becomes insignificant. Then one won't have to tread on eggshells wondering if the black community feels unfairly treated or judged. Code words won't have to be used to describe the physical characteristics of people.

But if acting upon this principle is just too daunting a task, then treat and judge black people the same as white people and everyone will be all right!

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