As the famous New York Yankee baseball player Yogi Berra would say, ‘It’s Déjà vu all over again.’
It was 15 years ago when 11 Miami police officers were under federal indictment for going on a black-male shooting spree. Only four were convicted but other officers were fired and charged with other crimes.
In 1996, the pivotal case was when unarmed Richard Brown, a 73-year-old grandfather was shot to death in his home. Miami police officers fired 123 shots. They were looking for drugs but none were found. When the police investigation was over, the police chief said that they did nothing wrong.
The FBI had to step in, only to find that the police planted guns on suspects, tampered with evidence and lied under oath.
Fast forward to 2011 Memorial Day and Urban Beach Weekend. It was capped off by the Miami Beach police shooting of two unarmed African Americans while they were sitting in their cars, with one of them killed. Police recklessly fired into a crowd of innocent bystanders, wounding four people. A video of the shooting was posted on YouTube.
This was the eighth black male shot and killed by local police in the last 10 months. Four of the males were killed when they were unarmed and sitting in their cars. One black male was shot while riding a bicycle. Obviously, it’s not safe for unarmed African Americans to be driving in South Florida. If you get pulled over by police, there is a chance that you could be shot and killed.
The first police shooting was last July, involving DeCarlos Moore. He was shot in the head. His car was parked and he did not have a weapon. The investigation ended in early May and the police found no wrongdoing. According to police, the officer acted in self defense.
Now, there are seven more police investigations. Just like 15 years ago, these investigations will find that all of the shootings were justified and that the officers were defending themselves. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with shooting unarmed black men. And, just like 15 years ago, residents will need a federal investigation to find the truth. Until then, no one is safe.
Just like 1996, the police claim that the shootings had nothing to do with race. It is just a common repeated coincidence. To put things into perspective, what if black police officers shot two unarmed Cuban men in Little Havana while they were sitting in their cars during Calle Ocho? What if the black police officers claimed that it was self-defense? Would that be acceptable? It’s possible. What if, black police officers shot two unarmed Jewish men while they were sitting in their cars in Aventura? Would that be legal?
The fact that South Florida residents aren’t asking these questions confirms the racial element of these shootings because, if eight Cubans or Jews were shot in the last 10 months by black police officers, we wouldn’t need a federal investigation. The black police officers would be fired and prosecuted. Those officers would have to prove in a court before a jury that they were defending themselves against unarmed men inside parked cars.
Before this situation gets any worse, we must ask the Department of Justice (firstname.lastname@example.org) to investigate. It’s the only opportunity that South Florida will have for justice to be served.
John Dudley is a local model, actor and freelance writer living in Miami Beach. He may be reached at Mrinvestor2u2002@yahoo.com.