MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – The images of the chaos on South Beach can be disturbing, especially to people of color who are feeling targeted. The reality is that the majority of people partying on South Beach are African American.
More than a few activists and leaders are saying the City of Miami Beach, residents and business owners wouldn’t be so worried if the crowds were white and that includes Steven Hunter Johnson, the Chairperson of Miami-Dade County’s Black Affairs Advisory Board.READ MORE: Taste Of The Town: Chefs Jose Mendin And Santo Agnello Open Italian Eatery Casa Isola
CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez had a conversation with him.
Johnson: “Unfortunately the images I saw Saturday of Miami Beach police shooting pepper spray at tourists brought back memories of hoses used to clear out peaceful marchers during the 60s and the civil rights movement.”READ MORE: Missing California Tourist Angela Morrisey Found In Medley
Eliott: “What about the fact that we all saw videos of people fighting, police say they confiscated 100 guns, we had a young woman raped and killed in a hotel room, and a valet had a gun pointed at him over a valet bill, you still think the police are overreacting when it comes to controlling these crowds?”
Johnson: “For the record, the incidents you mention had nothing to do with police clearing the street. It’s terrible that a young woman lost her life and its outrageous that young people were dancing on cars, however, every one of these things has occurred on Miami Beach during Spring Breaks of the past.”
Eliott: “Are you saying that police would have acted differently if this had been a mostly white crowd?”MORE NEWS: Zoo Miami Helps Discover A Brand New Spider Species In Miami
Johnson: “I think the outrage and the attention that they’ve gotten is because they are mostly black crowd. Spring Break is happening in other parts of the country, it’s happening on Padre Island, but the only scenes you see is of black kids on the beach. Miami Beach right now is the center of the South Florida universe, we want to send a signal that we are welcoming to all, we don’t want to harken back to the days when black people needed a card to even get on the beach.”