Officers with the Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) are under fire after video emerged online showing them roughing up Black spring breakers, beating a Black woman’s head into the pavement, and shooting a man on Ocean Drive.
“We’ve had enough!” a flyer posted on the NAACP’s Instagram page reads.
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“What I saw there was a blatant disregard and disrespect for the visitors—black visitors—on the beach and somehow it appeared to me that they had the approval to do so,” Ruben Roberts, chairman of the Miami-Dade NAACP, told WPLG.
As reported by The Root, during a press conference on Friday, Roberts blasted the police for their “racist” behavior and called out and Mayor Dan Gelber.
From the Herald:
Police were wearing “paramilitary gear with machine guns that shoot paint balls,” Roberts said. “I call for this issue to be investigated. […] They need to hire more black police officers and they need to have more black officers in the command staff.”
Jeanne Baker, who chairs the police practice committee of the ACLU of Florida, said Miami Beach “has a long and troubled history of racial discrimination.” She, too, called for a more diverse police department.
“There’s no justification other than intimidation for them to wear that gear and for them to have those guns,” Roberts said.
In addition to calling for the resignations of Morales and Clements, the Miami-Dade NAACP is requesting a civilian oversight panel to review complaints against Miami Beach cops, new police training and a ban of excessive force used by police.
“I’m not calling Jimmy or the mayor racist,” said Roberts, “but it has racial overtones when you only do that with one population. You can’t tell me that on the other spring break weeks when you have white college kids come down, the kids don’t also act unruly? Why is that different? There’s only one common denominator.”
Former Florida state Sen. Dwight Bullard said this latest incident reflects the long-standing issues with the Miami Beach police.
“It’s either a reflection of leadership, or training, or both,” he said.
“Any action the officers take or the chief takes, whether it’s using riot gear or assault rifles and bullets, has to have approval from the mayor and city manager,” Roberts said.