MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Gardens digital billboards featuring young children simultaneously showed messages in support of Black Lives Matter at 8:46 Tuesday morning.
The displays along the Palmetto Expressway and I-95 changed to honor George Floyd, the specific time was chosen to represent the eight minutes and 46 seconds the police officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Officials in Miami Gardens say the billboards don’t just represent George Floyd but everyone calling for real reform.
CBS4’s Joe Murray sat down with the city’s mayor and police chief about the future of the city’s police department.
Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert he doesn’t want any of these children to become another George Floyd.
Clad and King t-shirts, arms folded, these 11 and 12-year-old football players are the real faces and future of Miami Gardens.
Their image is simultaneously being beamed on every electronic billboard in the city
“To remind people. These are the black lives that we’re talking about,” said Gilbert.
“Lives that have to be protected,” Gilbert said, “from racism and injustice.”
The image reflects what the daily demonstrations have been all about.
“It is not George Floyd, it’s those kids. It is about that young girl who wants to two up to be a doctor. Black lives literally matter. That means giving more than lip service to the idea of equality. That means giving teeth, and not just teeth in its official functions under cover of law, but teeth, and how we act, day in and day out,” added Gilbert.
The city has invested in its police force, half of the officers are black and recruits for the police academy come from the community, there is implicit bias training for everyone. Community policing and a focus on how people are treated.
“When I look at people out in the community, I tell my folks this all the time. It’s important for us to look at them as people, and not just Okay I’m going to another call. So we need to treat them like this is our father, this is our mother. This is our son or daughter,” said Miami Gardens Police Chief Delma Noel-Pratt.
“When I saw what I saw on TV that day, I looked at Mr. Floyd and said that could be my husband,” added Noel-Pratt.
The city wants to move beyond outreach and focus on solutions. That’s why they are investigating in park programs to expose children to everything: art and music, cooking, yoga, and sports.
“These kids are beautiful. These kids are special. And that’s what I see when I see the billboards,” said Noel-Pratt.
The mayor told us this is a really an ongoing process, not just about these billboards, but continuing to invest in police officers. Continuing to invest in training but he says there’s a responsibility for all citizens to make changes, pay attention to what’s happening in government, and to vote.