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. This week, Luke takes Miami Gardens leaders to task for horribly failing black residents.
When Miami Gardens incorporated in 2003, it seemed like a great idea. City leaders envisioned a bustling metropolis where African-American professionals could find a home to settle down. That's how it was in the '70s and '80s, when North Dade was known as Carol City -- before violence and poverty increased. It was a place to escape Liberty City and Overtown.
The goal was to make Miami Gardens into a predominantly African-American version of Miami Lakes or Aventura.
But now Miami Gardens is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The city has a homicide rate higher than New York and Chicago. Last year, Miami Gardens earned the title of the "Stop-and-Frisk Capital of America" following a Fusion Network investigation that revealed police officers had detained 56,992 people -- half of the city's population -- between 2008 and 2014.
In February, a mentally ill man died after two cops tasered and shot him. Two weeks ago, Broward County Sheriff's deputies busted Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson trying to buy two hookers.
And WPLG recently reported that City Manager Cameron Benson's pick for interim chief, Antonio Brooklen, was accused of sexual harassment by a former crime scene technician. The story also brought up sexual harassment complaints against Benson when he was Hollywood's city manager, as well as Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. Those complaints were dismissed.
Since the city incorporated, there has been a massive propaganda campaign against Miami Gardens. Every five minutes there is a news story about how Miami Gardens is the worst place in the county.
Gilbert now needs to make a bold move. He should disband the Miami Gardens police force and bring back Miami-Dade County Police. Miami Gardens made a mistake starting its own department because it ended up with cops from outside of the county who can't tell the difference from the criminals and the good citizens. He should also build a police precinct and put cameras in the neighborhoods with the most crime.
The city is an embarrassment. I feel bad for Gilbert because I really believe he's trying his best to turn around Miami Gardens. But it's hard to make progress when you're constantly hit with negativity.
Miami Gardens has the infrastructure to become a great place. It's home to two universities -- Florida Memorial and St. Thomas. Then there's Sun Life Stadium, which is undergoing a major renovation to bring back the Super Bowl and the college national championship.
It's time to build up the city's reputation. The trouble needs to stop now.
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