MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Miami Beach and parts of Miami will be flooded with visitors Memorial Day Weekend as part of the 12th annual Urban Beach Week, and to ease possible rough spots between residents and visitors, Miami-Dade has it’s own flood of goodwill ambassadors who have the assignment of keeping the weekend safe and fun for everyone.
The program was started 10 years ago, after the huge crowds attracted by what was then known as “Hip Hop Weekend” angered and intimidated residents, and led to what many called excessive police response and hundreds of arrests.
The Goodwill Ambassador Program, initiated by Miami-Dade’s Office of Community Advocacy, was started to ease friction between the two groups. It brings local volunteers together to work alongside police to provide information and directions to visitors, as well maintain crowd control.
Crowd control is critical, as tourism officials are predicting about 300 thousand people are expected to come to Miami Beach this weekend. The Goodwill Ambassadors will help them with information while reducing tensions between partygoers, residents, and police.
The largest impact the Goodwill Ambassadors have had is in the area of arrests.5 years ago, Miami Beach police and other agencies arrested over 1 thousand visitors, mostly young and black, resulting in charges of racism.
5 Years later,with more than twice the Ambassadors on the street, the arrests memorial day weekend had been cut by 2 thirds.
250 ambassadors, all wearing red shirts, will be on the street over the course of the weekend from Thursday through the end of the Memorial Day holiday Monday.