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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – This year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Miami-Dade has a special significance as more than 200 black students marched to protest gun violence.
Students, from 10 area schools, carried signs urging an end to all the shootings in which several kids and teens have died recently. They carried baby caskets and rolled adult caskets in the parade.
“A lot of young African American men and females, they’re dying in the streets and it can be prevented but it’s not. What are we going to do to change it,” said Alexis Wright who watched as the students went by. “We want to grow up. We want to live. Give us a chance. Senseless violence. It’s ridiculous. That was a great message.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police walked in the parade along with participants from the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a mentoring program for black youth.
The parade, which started at 11 a.m. went along NW 54th Street on a route from NW 12th Avenue to NW 32nd Avenue, ending with a celebration at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park.
“We come out here to honor a man that was about doing the right thing,” said attendee Willie Whitfield.
“Dr. King was all about freedom and supporting the constitution and the changes we’ve made and we haven’t made enough. A lot of them are because of his bravery,” said South Florida Attorney Robert Rubenstein.
Desmon Andrade and his wife brought their two boys to the parade.
“As a family we plan on making this a tradition,” said Andrade.
The couple wants to make sure their boys learn about the people before them who fought for civil rights. Desmon has two of them tattooed on his arms.
“This is brother Martin and this is brother Malcom, two of our heroes and it’s really just about unity,” said Andrade. “When people come together and unite there’s nothing the community can’t accomplish.”
The 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. parade featured high school marching bands, floats, cars and fire trucks, and for a Caribbean Miami twist, Carnival dancers.
Law enforcement played a big role in the parade and behind the scenes. Word on the street was hoards of bikers planned to crash MLK festivities throughout the day.
Cops said they are ready to crack down on any out of control bikers who take part in a group ride trend dubbed “wheels up, guns down. ”
“The bikers rising recklessly poses and extreme danger to the public and to vehicular and pedestrian traffic,” said Major Ricky Carter with Miami-Dade Police.
Last year, hundreds of people on motorcycles and ATVs took over the streets of South Florida, speeding, stunting, and popping wheelies.
It’s a movement meant to promote peaceful celebration but police warn the tricks could be dangerous and won’t be tolerated.
“If they are stopped, they will be arrested or their vehicles will be towed or ticked,” said Carter.
The catch is authorities can’t chase after reckless riders.
“We don’t not want to cause any additional risk or danger to traffic so our policy is not to chase these vehicles unless they create a forcible felony,” said Carter.
Cops and community leaders want people to celebrate safely, reminding everyone Monday is about a man who promoted unity and peaceful activism.
“It’s very, very inspiring and this day is very important. It’s a beautiful thing to see all of South Florida come together and march down the street and enjoy themselves and embrace the moment,” said Campbell.