For the past 17 years, each Memorial Day weekend on Miami Beach has been spoiled by the bad behavior of thugs.
Most of the revelers who come from all over the country are well-behaved African Americans who come to spend money and have a good time.
But there are several hundred who come and destroy. And each year all I hear is people, like the NAACP, complaining that all the commotion that occurs is because white folk and white police don’t want black folk on their island. And this will continue until black folk, good citizens, stop providing common thugs alibis for their bad behavior.
I remember the genesis of Urban Beach weekend – Memorial Day weekend, 2001. I received several phone calls that pulled me into the fiasco, primarily after some of the black radio stations called for a march on Mangos and a boycott of Miami Beach.
One call came from someone alerting me of the proposed march and boycott. Another came from a Miami Beach Commissioner asking for help. And yet another came from the owner of Mangos Café, one of the hottest spots on Ocean Drive.
I met with the city manager and mayor and had the mayor call a press conference. I later arranged a meeting with some of the hotel managers and members of the black community, including the NAACP and a couple of churches.
The black underground radio stations had promoted Miami Beach as the place to go after the black leaders shut Atlanta down because of so many incidents that required a large police presence.
The horror stories were really troublesome. Several folk crashed not one but two wedding receptions at the Lowes Hotel, which had to reimburse the wedding parties to the tune of $150,000. Needless to say, the brides were traumatized. What should have been the happiest day of their lives was ruined by thugs who just stormed into the ballrooms and helped themselves to food and drinks relegated for the brides’ guests.
Dozens of people smoked crack cocaine in hotel lobbies. Women were assaulted. There were several dozen people fighting go outside for hours.
There were reports of people throwing TVs out of hotel windows into the swimming pool. People urinated and defecated in the hallways. And that was at only one hotel. Other hotels had similar horror stories.
The police had their hands full. Yet when these stories were told to the NAACP and the black preachers, they brushed them off and still maintained that the problem was that “white folks didn’t want blacks on their beach.”
And that posture remained over the next 17 years. Last year when a black man was arrested and it was on social media, all anyone could say was “White folks didn’t want blacks on the beach.”
Black professionals and middle class blacks have complained about the thuggish behavior, but only among themselves. The prevailing posture has remained that it is racism that prevents blacks from having a good time.
When are we, as a people, going to recognize that we cannot continue to excuse bad, thuggish and criminal behavior by young black men? We remember the names of those who have been shot by cops and call it murder, but we excuse the behavior that created police involvement in the first place.
We tell our young black boys they have to be afraid of the police; but we don’t teach them common courtesy or how to behave – how to have respect for their elders.
Sometimes I wonder – WHERE MY CHRISTIANS AT?
Until the black community returns to the days where drugs and criminals did not control our young black men or when women were treated with dignity and people in authority were treated with respect, then we will continue to lose our boys and men to the penal system or to their early graves.
My grandkids are all adults now and they keep reminding me that we live in a different time. I agree. But someone has to stand up and say, “Enough is enough.”
We must return to the time when we knew racism was rampart, but that didn’t stop us from thriving and building up our great community.
Erica Campbell sings “I Need Just A Little More Jesus.” Maybe we all do.