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Black Leaders, Politicians Slam Miami SWAT Tactics Against Black Spring Breakers

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Miami’s famous South Beach is known to become packed and violent during Spring Break. However, this year, many visitors, particularly black ones, were met with a SWAT truck, pepper balls, and sound canons; it is claimed they were used to enforce an 8 p.m. curfew.

What We Know:

  • The actions come as a response to a hectic few weeks of tourists. On Saturday, March 20, 2021, the city of Miami Beach suddenly declared at 4 p.m. they would be closing the causeways into the city to visitors, imposing an 8 p.m. curfew, and declaring a state of emergency.

“These crowds are in the thousands… We’re at capacity,” said interim City Manager Raul Aguila.

  • Miami Beach Police Department posted a picture on Twitter mid-evening showing an empty intersection on Ocean Drive and Eighth Street to prove their tactics worked. However, Black leaders in Miami were disappointed by the law enforcement’s use of force to drive away tourists of color. Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Committee Chairman Stephen Hunter Johnson said he was very disappointed by the SWAT team’s actions. Another chairman from the same committee, Glendon Hall, said the arrival of SWAT trucks made tensions rise, but the use of pepper balls resulted in mass panic. Daniella Pierre, President of the Miami-Dade NAACP tweeted “#SpringBreakingWhileBlack” on Saturday. She also said the actions were “unacceptable.”
  • Even before Spring Break began on South Beach, it was a discussion among Miami’s Black leaders. DeAnne Connolly Graham, a member of the Black Affairs Advisory Committee, told the Miami Herald on Friday that people are fighting racial undertones from White residents. She also said some of those people have called Black spring breakers “thugs” and “animals” online. Connolly Graham stated that city leaders should consider funding cultural programs “to give visitors something to do besides drink in the streets.”
  • Johnson said Saturday’s events showed unnecessary force. He also complained that police gave tourists and businesses only a few hours’ time to prepare. In addition, he did not like how police began firing pepper balls at 10 p.m., only two hours after the curfew started. He said it reminded him how they handled last summer’s George Floyd protests.
  • Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements announced he would begin an internal review as to why pepper balls were used on the tourists. He also defended the police officers, stating that they only fired tear gas when the guests crowded around them. Clements also stated that police have been “tolerant” of peaceful street parties, but some people do not intend to follow the law.
  • Throughout Spring Break, people have thrown bottles and have put their hands on the police. In the past few weeks, there have been five officers injured. Clements mentioned the relations between law enforcement and Black Spring Breakers have been tense this year.

Both Johnson and Pierre are working to develop events for future spring breaks. Recently, Pierre has met with Clements and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber to discuss the handling of next year’s events. Johnson and Pierre are hoping that race relations can improve soon, especially with the installation of a Black Affairs Advisory Committee.

The post Black Leaders, Politicians Slam Miami SWAT Tactics Against Black Spring Breakers appeared first on Black News Alerts.

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