There can be little doubt that racism is the driving factor behind the attitude of Miami Beach officials towards the thousands of young African Americans who make the annual trip to the city to celebrate Memorial Day.
The central force behind the city’s approach to this “problem” has always been alarm over the presence of that many young black people in this much-vaunted tourist resort.
The measures which officials are implementing for this year’s Urban Beach Week only serve to affirm that belief. They are draconian and patently intended to “persuade” people to stay away.
These are some of the measures that will confront revelers as they come to the beach: street closures; video surveillance; two police officers on every corner; a DUI checkpoint; license plate scanners that are intended to indicate outstanding warrants and other traffic violations that would give police reason to stop motorists.
Let us not fool ourselves. Some of the young people who come for fun on the beach have been raucous and raunchy. But there are laws that can be enforced against such lawbreakers.
The reaction of law enforcement towards Urban Beach Week revelers has often been excessive. It was only last year that 11 officers shot and killed Raymond Herisse – firing 100 bullets. His offense? He sped off when police ordered him to stop.
The confrontational attitude of the police and city officials leaves a bad taste in the mouth but it is not a new phenomenon. Miami Beach has a history of raw discrimination against black people — and Jews.
But this is a different era and the hope was that today’s leaders of the city would be more enlightened in their approach to what is a legitimate concern. Sadly, they are not. The little regard that some folks have for people of color seems to be hereditary among officials. It seems to be in the DNA. It just keeps getting passed down.