Civil Rights activists in South Florida are calling for the resignation of Miami Beach’s police chief following the release of two viral videos showing Miami Beach police department violently assault an unarmed Black spring breaker.
According to reports, on March 11 police reports show officers responded to a group of men involved in a fight along Ocean Drive, in one video an officer and a woman are running in the same direction and collided by accident into each other. The officer, who was chasing a male assailant, is seen in the video getting up, pushing the woman back to the ground, and then choking her with one hand. In a video, stemming from the same incident, an officer is heard telling a young black man to “get the [explicative] out of here!” Three officers physically take him down to the ground while another cop fires a pellet gun to the ground to disperse the crowd.
The Miami-Dade chapter of the NAACP demanded swift action and change within the department.
“Miami Beach is a destination city. It has high-impact weekends. During no other high-impact weekend do you see police officers dressed in paramilitary gear with guns that shoot paintballs,” said Ruban Roberts, president of the Miami-Dade NAACP chapter, who branded the officer’s actions as racist. “We have Super Bowl, we have [Gay] Pride, we have New Year’s. That never happens [during those weekends].”
On Sunday in social media campaign, the Miami-Dade NAACP Chapter escalated their demands also calling for the resignation of Miami Beach’s City Manager, Jimmy Morales.
“We told the City of Miami Beach to put an end to the maltreatment of Black people and to stop the use of excessive force, last Friday. They didn’t listen. Now, it’s time we show the City of Miami Beach, we’ve had enough. It’s time for collective action.”
In seven arrest reports related to this incident, released by the Miami Beach Police Department the charges range from resisting arrest to disorderly conduct. One arrest report stated that a 23-year-old suspect’s behavior “created a danger for all officers involved due to the large size of the crowd that already gathered.” The man, who is Black, was taken to the ground by officers and arrested.
In another arrest report, an officer admitted hitting a 24-year-old Black man with “three to four closed fist punches to the left rib area.” The defendant complained of injuries to his face and left side of ribs.
“If you come to Miami Beach to cause problems, we will intervene and take enforcement action,” Miami Beach Police Chief, Richard Clements said in a statement.
Civil rights advocates are calling for an independent citizen’s review panel in Miami-Dade County that could investigate complaints against Miami Beach police. The City of Miami already has a Civilian Investigative Panel in place that only services Miami. Advocates also want Miami Beach Police Chief Clements to hire additional black police officers and black officers in the command staff.
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