Miami Beach Leaders to Discuss Fate of Urban Beach Week After Shootings

David Smiley, Miami Herald, May 31, 2011

The police shooting that killed one, wounded four bystanders and shocked South Beach over the holiday weekend may be the death knell for Urban Beach Week.

As calls for drastic change to the city’s popular but polarizing–and unofficial–hip-hop street party increase, Miami Beach commissioners will gather Wednesday for their monthly meeting. On the agenda: New ways to patrol the city’s annual Memorial Day weekend crowds, which typically reach between 200,000 and 300,000 people.

Commissioners’ proposals include curfews, forcing an early last call for clubs and bars, and eliminating all traffic in the city’s entertainment district.

“It’s time we just admit that we’re not equipped to handle a street festival with no place for people to go,” said Commissioner Deede Weithorn, who said a Saturday night out with police and code enforcement convinced her that the city should shut off traffic on Ocean Drive and Collins and Washington avenues after 10 p.m. during Urban Beach Week.


Commissioner Jerry Libbin, also president and CEO of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, has proposed a curfew.

And while Mayor Matti Herrera Bower has dismissed that idea as unfeasible, she supports a move to end alcohol sales at bars and clubs earlier than the South Beach standard 5 a.m.


A YouTube video that captured the shooting–which led one activist to call South Beach a “warzone”–showed officers approaching the stalled car with guns drawn before unleashing a hail of gunfire into the vehicle. Police did not discover a weapon, but said they are investigating unconfirmed reports that shots came from the car and that passengers were in the vehicle and bailed out.

Four bystanders were shot, and police chief Carlos Noriega acknowledged that they may have been shot by officers.


Still, Bower says the city doesn’t have much ability to end Urban Beach Week, considering the throngs of tourists who flood Miami Beach’s Art Deco district don’t come for city permitted events, but for private concerts and parties.

“There is very little we can do,” she said, adding that scrutiny from the American Civil Liberties Union–which has called for a transparent and independent investigation into the Collins Avenue shooting–“ties our hands” when it comes to enforcement measures.

Urban Beach Week hit its 10th anniversary this year. Its history has been marked by controversy, including four fatal shootings, allegations of racial profiling and now police bloodshed. This year, police arrested 431 people, up from 382 last year.

Terrance Smith, the founder of and a main promoter of a number of Memorial Day weekend parties from Jamaica to Cancun, Mexico, said he is conducting an informal poll to see how people feel about Urban Beach Week and the fatal Monday morning shootings. {snip}

“I don’t care if the community says end this event,” he said. “If the people are coming and booking hotels, I can’t just stop it.”



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  • Wayne Engle

    Two of the statements you least want to hear from a city’s chief elected official: “There’s very little we can do,” and “Our hands are tied.” Mayor Bower managed to say them both, apparently in two consecutive sentences.

    Their hands are tied because of the ACLU? Since when did the ACLU obtain “veto rights” over everything that goes on in this country that it doesn’t approve of?

    The shooting death is unfortunate, of course, but in view of what the article said preceded it, I’d say the officers were probably justified. Sounds like this black version of “Spring Break” needs to be shut down before even worse happens.

    And here’s a piece of advice for Mayor Bower: Really outstanding leaders FIND a way to get things done, when the need arises.

  • Anonymous

    Force these ‘private parties’ (which I believe must have registered hotel or event center bookings to legally hold even free public performances with crowds over a certain number in a room. And of course another permit to sell alcoholic beverages…) to cough up for a universal UBW insurance fund.

    The money being paid to the city to compensate for all the littering and offset the court fees (drugs, prostitution, public nudity, vandalism, assault) in the wake of 430 odd arrests.

    And of course to act as a buffer against lawsuits in the wake of events like this _don’t H&R a police officer and expect to be treated nicely_ shooting.

    I bet that would put an end to UBW, right quick.

    Blacks don’t like to pay The Man for their little off the cuff street party/flash mob/orgiastic activities. Make each locations have to charge a much higher (20 bucks) cover charge for the price of doing business and the blacks will not come and the event will self implode.

    Another cheap trick means to force the issue is to have ‘rolling brownouts’ from an overstressed electrical grid (which tends to happen when you turn off one of the main city generators) and use that to isolate these clubs and private parties without power for their bands and air conditioning and street lights. If it’s dangerous, the police can declare street by street curfews in the interests of public safety.

    What this really says to me is that the power of the dollar is mightier than the rule of law and the mayor doesn’t actually want UBW to end at all.

  • Anonymous

    I used to live near Palm Springs in the early 90s and Miami could learn a lesson from them. Spring Break used to be a major party destination for college kids there, which started to get out of hand, but not as bad as this situation, since of course it was all White people, but the city fathers decided enough is enough, so they cracked down on unruly behavior, which I suppose took the fun out of it for a lot of those youngsters and in a couple of years the scene fell apart to where it is no longer the big draw it once was. Now the question is: do they have enough backbone to put an end to the out of control crowds in Florida there, amid the accusations or racism? Ditto for Black Bike Week.

  • Sonya

    Commissioners’ proposals include curfews, forcing an early last call for clubs and bars, and eliminating all traffic in the city’s entertainment district.

    Atlanta used to have a thriving club scene in the Buckhead section of town. A 3-4 block radius with dozens of bars was packed every weekend with nearly all white crowds, bars stayed open until 5, and no one worried about crime or walking to their cars in the early morning hours.

    Then the black thugs from the south side of town started going to Buckhead. Suddenly crime spiked and the City of Atlanta decided the “Fix” was to make last call at 2 pm citywide, all the time. This caused the demise of some afterhours clubs. The buckhead clubs are mostly black now.

    The solution for a few black troublemakers is to punish everyone.

  • SKIP

    “Make each locations have to charge a much higher (20 bucks) cover charge for the price of doing business and the blacks will not come and the event will self implode”

    You don’t know blacks very well, a few will pay, then the rest will start a fight out front, the others will stampede in and tear the place up and then the usual shootings, fights and murders happen as usual with blacks.

  • John

    Sonya it’s the same old story over and over again.

    Something good is built.

    blacks start to come in and everything that was is gone.

    They are Spoilers, always pushing into places they are not wanted then ruining what was good before they came.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone here complaining will be routinely called a racist and a nazi by the media and the public. You don’t have to express this opinion, Chris Rock has actually done it for you. He is saying everything that you are saying. For him, it is a comedy routine that Oprah approves of. There were some copies of it on youtube, but most have been deleted. I believe there is one copy left. Go to youtube and type “Chris Rock” and the N word with a Z. He will explain everything in detail. He basically states that decent black folks can’t have a good time because the low lifes are destroying it for everyone. Chris Rock is an anti-white racist, but this monlogue is correct. Aslo, a fair number of black folks are not violent, evil people.

  • Crystal

    Miami could do what Atlanta did to shut down Freaknik by closing streets and keeping the revelers strictly in the Atlanta University center. This caused the whole event to be shut down.

  • Anonymous


    Sounds like this black version of “Spring Break” needs to be shut down before even worse happens.

    Are you kidding? Designate a few more places exclusiveley for them, Maybe bring in portable bars and stuff so there will be enough to go around, actually they can organize that themselves. They need a place where they are among their own and can let their hair down. You want them to all come to the Octoberfest in Frankenmuth instead? No no no, let them be, the City should not bother, and only one dead? I would say put up prominent signs, “No Whites allowed.” Otherwise, I am tired, I work hard and I believe in something called personal responsibility. Why do you want to close it down and take care of the mess?

  • Donnerwedder!

    Save that link to check your travel plans against!!!

  • Bernie

    I used to go to “Shamrock Fest” in the DC area (Arlington) for several years. It was a day long St. Patrick’s Day drinking festival with food, concerts and alcohol. Almost everyone was drunk but there was no property damage and certainly no rapes, robberies or murders. I never even saw a fight though I am sure a few occurred.

    The point is, Shamrock Fest is/was 90% white with some Asians and Hispanics thrown in. Blacks had to be less than 1%.

    Now if they had some type of MLK Fest or Hip Hop Fest in the same venue at the same time, there would certainly have been rapes, property damage, gang beat-downs, robberies and maybe a few murders.

    Many are defending this black behavior by saying “well, whites do it too, and nobody wants to shut them down.”

    But that’s not true. White partiers get drunk and have sex. There may be a fight or two but nobody gets seriously hurt or killed. Women flash the crowd but nobody gets raped. A few kids may throw up in a bathroom but there is no property damage.

    The same cannot be said of black parties. But if they want to have these black themed events, why not hold them in Harlem, Watts, Anacostia or some other black community?

  • Californian

    Miami could do what Atlanta did to shut down Freaknik by closing streets and keeping the revelers strictly in the Atlanta University center.

    Perhaps they could restrict the revelers to the University’s diversity center? Or the local ACLU offices?

  • generalquagmyer

    Wonder how many of these “youths” would drown at the sight of a body of water. As a native Southern Californian, I’ve never been able to figure out why people would want to congregate at a beach if they don’t like to get wet. But then, I’ve never been able to make much sense out of ANYTHING that blacks do.