Another Way to Celebrate Memorial Day

It is with some discomfort that I pick up a thread worked loose by Drudge, but if I can’t ask the question, then what are we doing here?

What’s going on?

Since Monday, more than 250,000 Gay South Florida readers have viewed Herb Sosa’s open letter to Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, the Beach commission and “concerned citizens” about Urban Weekend.

“People are pissed off. They’re upset, What’s the right way to take care of the city?”

Sosa, president of Unity Coalition, Miami-Dade County’s leading Hispanic gay-rights group, said he’s concerned some people have called him racist, after he demanded an end to Urban Weekend.

“It has nothing to do with racism,” said Sosa, who lives in South Beach. “It’s a lack of respect for the city they’re visiting. It’s as simple as that. This morning, there were six cars parked on my block with their mirrors ripped off, their antennas ripped off.

“The suggestion that this is a racist issue … is absolutely ridiculous. If anything, the city of Miami Beach as been more than accommodating to Urban Weekend.”

This is what he wrote:

Esteemed Miami Beach Mayor, Commissioners & concerned citizens.

Please view the attached YouTube video (one of many) already posted for the world to see, about Memorial/Urban Weekend 2011 in Miami Beach.

It shows our city as nothing short of a warzone – Filthy streets, a drive by shooting, multiple cars crashed in the process, and total chaos on the streets. This is unacceptable and must be controlled before we totally lose our city, tourism & residents. It is not limited to Ocean Drive or Collins – there isn’t a residential street in South Beach not affected by tons of garbage, crime to our vehicles, excessive noise 24 hours a day, and simply a lack of respect for our community, citizens & property. THIS is the image the world see of our “American Riviera”.

Okay, that’s Miami.

Did you hear about Charlotte?

Questions continue to swirl as investigators search for whoever fired shots during one of many fights in uptown Charlotte early Sunday.

Investigators say Antwan Terrell Smith was shot and killed after someone pulled a gun just after 1 a.m. during a large fight on 3rd Street. Durante Kavon James was shot in the leg.

It was one of several fights that broke out after the Speed Street celebration in Uptown. CMPD called out its Civil Emergency Unit after reporting that many large groups of people were disobeying police, flashing gang signs, blocking traffic and fighting.

A manager at a convenience store on North Tryon Street tells NewsChannel 36 a huge crowd swarmed the store, broke a window, and began stealing things, before running away.

In all, 70 people were arrested – including 15 juveniles. Most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct, fighting, assault, and impeding traffic.

Meanwhile, at a water park in Nashville:

Nearly two dozen police officers were called out to Wave Country on Monday afternoon after large crowds of people became unruly. The disturbance forced park managers to close the facility two hours early on Memorial Day.

Metro Parks director Tommy Lynch said Wave Country was nowhere near capacity, but there were plenty of problems that caused the park to close early.

“Once we got to the point that the turmoil at the front of the facility also got inside the facility, we felt for everyone’s safety the best thing to do was to close it,” Lynch explained.

Metro Police were called out to Wave Country around 1 p.m. because the crowd outside the gates and inside the park was acting up.

“That crowd refused to follow any kind of instructions. They became disorderly,” according to Cpt. Marlene Pardue from Metro Police.

There were several fights inside. Police said one of the biggest problems was people jumping the fence to get into the park, creating chaos inside the park.

“Not just kids jumping the fence, but adults, with children and strollers, putting them over the fence, then jumping the fence,” Cpt. Pardue said.

Visitors inside the park said the chaos made them feel unsafe.

“Hundreds of people were just jumping over the fence. Almost trampled my kids. I just didn’t feel safe,” Heather Nowack explained.

And in Rochester:

A busy Memorial Day evening at the beach ended abruptly when fights broke out among at least 100 youth.

Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies shut down Ontario Beach Park, prompting a traffic jam. Large crowds of youth ran south on Lake Ave.?

Sheriff’s and Rochester police arrested 13 people on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to drug and alcohol offenses.

And not least here in Boston:

Fights broke out among rival gang members on Carson Beach in South Boston yesterday and spilled out across the city, triggering a massive law enforcement response from at least five agencies to stem the violence.

Police said the gang members are part of a group of more than 1,000 youths who have used social media sites like Facebook to plan unruly gatherings on the beach on three of the past four nights. The beach falls under the jurisdiction of the State Police, who have been unable to prevent the violence.

The response yesterday resembled crowd-control tactics reserved for major sporting victories.

There were a few other events, but the details weren’t as clear.

But in all these cases, a primarily African American crowd went wild, from overrunning a water park in Nashville to letting fly hot lead in Miami Beach.

So, what’s going on? Are we in for a “long, hot summer”, or is this just random violence, overblown by the media and the “racist” Drudge? That’s what this guy thinks:

Curious about what “urban” teenagers were doing over the holiday weekend, and whether you should feel threatened by them and people who share their complexion? Then be sure to check in with the Drudge Report, which has conveniently rounded up a slew of run-of-the-mill summer crime stories that happen to involve black people and suggestively weaved them into a nationwide race riot.

“Run-of-the-mill summer crime stories”? Perhaps 2,000 people were involved, shots fired, dozens of arrests—I lead a sedate life, but is that run-of-the-mill?

And Drudge only presented the stories (yes, together); he made no editorial comment. So, lose the attitude.

But I’ll make an editorial comment.

I wonder if there is any deeper story here. During one of the most American of holidays (when we honor soldiers who died in our defense), a holiday begun by freed slaves in honor of the Union soldiers who died that they might live free, contemporary American blacks in at least a few communities besmirch the hallowed occasion with rank violence.

Just a coincidence? Nothing to worry about? Shame on me? Yeah, yeah, fine. Whatever.

I don’t pick up Drudge’s gauntlet out of outrage—well, yes I do. I am outraged. But I’m also unspeakably sad. No thanks to me (I voted for the old white crank), African Americans can look to the White House with a pride they might never have felt for a president before. Heck, those Boston kids got a double dose with our black governor. Yet the Boston police had to turn out as if the Patriots had won the Super Bowl.

And Miami Beach turned into Fallujah for the night.

Maybe we can blame the economy, with unemployment for black people worse than everyone else; maybe we blame the heat wave; maybe we even blame Obama directly for contributing to a reliance on an abstract and distant government, instead of reliance on self and family. If you don’t own something—a car, a house, society—you don’t feel the need to treat it with as much respect as if you do.

I don’t know. But though the incidents are unrelated in any way, they all happened. On Memorial Day. And it’s just so sad.


  1. Saul Levy said,

    June 1, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

    All of this just feeds the call for MARSHALL LAW!

    You haven’t heard it yet?

    You WILL!

  2. Carol said,

    June 1, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

    You missed Myrtle Beach. Probably just as well. I read the local report and some of the comments, some of which were disgustingly racist but some made the valid point that the newspapers very carefully made sure they didn’t in any way describe the rioters. It’s just like “Guess that Party” and other fun games. Our local newspapers, such as they are, will provide a description of suspects in certain crimes, and then absolutely will not mention the race of the suspect, leaving everyone to guess an important factor in identification.

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