MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Rowdy spring breakers and pandemic-weary tourists are being drawn to South Beach by the thousands.  There have been fights, crime, and several dangerous stampedes.

Former State Senator Dwight Bullard said he is concerned by the images coming from Miami Beach.

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“Some of the images are challenging to watch, I’ll be perfectly honest with you,” said Bullard, who is the president of the South Miami-Dade chapter of the NAACP. “We live in a social media age where folks are trapped in this more and more and more. Well, what I would say, and I think folks in my age cohort would agree, is that. There’s a there’s a high likelihood, and I can just attest to seeing this myself, that things like that were happening when I was in my 20s or when my parents were in their 20s. It’s just that we didn’t put them on smartphones and put them on the platform for the whole world to see.”

Those images of large, rowdy crowds who are predominantly African-American, can play into racial stereotypes.

“I always worry about that because of the notion of perception,” he said. “When you’re fighting for social justice, you don’t necessarily want to have the reinforcement of an already existing stereotype that undermines the goal of what it is that you’re trying to fight for. That is always a challenge.”

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But he also points to events in the past, in which predominantly white young people would tear up Fort Lauderdale or Daytona, and no one judged them as being representative of their entire race.

“We think about Fort Lauderdale in the 80s or Panama City during the 90s, where you had seas and seas of predominantly white college students coming into a space,” he said. “But that that’s the major hidden issue of racism, the ability to morph someone’s thought process explicitly around the color of their skin.”

More importantly for Bullard is the message being sent by the city that young black people are not welcome on Miami Beach.

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“For individuals who are traveling, who are renting the cars, buying the plane tickets, getting the hotel rooms on the beach, for them, it’s a destination,” he said. “And they want to feel welcome in a space where they’re spending that kind of money.”

CBSMiami.com Team