MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Trust is not easily given in Liberty Square.
The public housing project, nicknamed, “Pork and Beans” for its original paint color is the center of a hotbed of violent crime. Residents and activists here say politicians aplenty have made residents promises for decades.
“I’ve watched promises being made to African American people and people who are of color. I don’t trust them. I need to see it to believe it,” said Rev. Richard Dunn.
A politician himself, former Miami Commissioner Reverend Richard Dunn apologized for his cynicism, in a news conference he called Monday morning.
He says he supports Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s plan, to knock down Liberty Square, and rebuild a $74-million housing project in its place.
So does Liberty Square Residents Council member Eric Thompson.
“We welcome the idea of redeveloping Liberty Square,” said Thompson.
At issue though is what happened during the selection process. Liberty Square Residents Council President Sara Smith is one of 10 committee members who helped select the developer who will rebuild the complex.
She is the only Liberty Square representative on the panel and the activists and pastors believe she was not treated well during the selection process.
“Because she was the only member questioned more than the rest of the board members,” said Thompson.
“We’re saying let that person get just as much respect as anyone else on the panel,” added Rev. Dunn.
Like Sara Smith, the Mayor is in the cone of silence, which is standard during the bidding process, but his office released a statement reading in part, “The redevelopment of Liberty Square continues to be a priority for Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his administration. The mayor and his team…are confident that this has been the most transparent process for a redevelopment of a housing community in Miami-Dade County history.”
CBS4’s Natalia Zea asked Rev. Dunn for his reaction to the mayor’s assertion.
Dunn agreed with it.
“At this point it is, let it stay that way until the very end….Let’s put it on the table right now, so that people can understand that we are watching you,” said Dunn.
The selection process continues, and is likely to be completed in the next few weeks.