MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For more than a week, protesters have been hitting the streets, rallying against police brutality and racial injustice.
On Sunday, a crowd gathered in the city of Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.
“We’ve become a national model, frankly, in terms of the way that we’ve protested and also the way that our police officers have acted,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
Suarez said he’s listening to their concerns.
“Unfortunately, systemic racism still exists in our country and in our city. We have to do everything we can to stamp it out and certainly let make sure it doesn’t wear its ugly head in our police department. We are going to be doing everything we can to reform our department and continue to make changes,” said Suarez.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he fought to be one of the first in the country to have police body cams for accountability.
And he told us he was a main force to get an outside agency to investigate police-involved shootings.
“We’ve done a lot of innovative things here in Miami-Dade County to make sure that our policing gets better. Our policing in the community gets better. We’ve also integrated ourselves in the community. We have people from the community teaching all of our education classes about how to police in different communities,” said Gimenez.
Last weekend, both Miami and Fort Lauderdale saw tear gas being used, buildings damaged and people hurt.
The mayor credits the countywide curfew for not seeing the level of clashes between protesters and police like other major cities.
“If you don’t do it countywide, what they’ll do is, we will just move it over here where the curfew isn’t. So, we have to do it countywide,” Gimenez said.
Miami’s mayor says the nightly curfew hurts business.
“It has been unfortunate that we still have a curfew because a lot of our business owners and restaurants have been hurt by COVID and are now suffering because they can’t stay open,” Suarez said.
Protesters have gone to major roadways to voice their concerns, like some trying to get on I-195 in Miami.
The mayor says he supports their right to protest but he discourages protesters from going on interstates.
But at times police will work with them.
“If we can make it safe, it’s better to let them on and deescalate the situation. The last thing we want to do is escalate the situation,” Gimenez.
Mayor Gimenez says there’s still a countywide curfew at 9 p.m.
Some non-essential businesses have stayed open. He says they run the risk of getting violations and or fines.