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It’s Hip Hop Weekend. Don’t Forget Your Bail Money

May 26, 2010 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Local News  | 20 Comments


It’s hip hop weekend on Miami Beach again, which means it will not be safe to walk the streets without fear of getting pounced on by groups of men who will rip the wallet out of your pocket.

These men will then throw you in the back of a paddy wagon and cart you off to jail where you will remain until Tuesday unless you can raise enough bail to be released the following morning.

The Miami Beach Police Department says they are merely enforcing the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union says they are racially profiling against blacks.

As a white Hispanic who was arrested last year for taking photos of cops during Memorial Day Weekend, I can assure you that it’s not necessarily black vs. white.

It’s blue vs. whomever happens to be on the streets that weekend.

However, most of the estimated 200,000 people who will be visiting Miami Beach this weekend will be black.

Although ACLU officials have met with city and police officials in preparation for the controversial weekend known as Urban Beach Week, they don’t believe things are going to change for the better.


“I don’t get the sense that there is going to be any less likelihood that their practices are going to continue,” said LaRhonda Odom, justice project associate for the ACLU in Miami.

The ACLU will have observers walking the streets with cameras to document how police interact with people this weekend.

Hopefully, they won’t run into Miami Beach Police Officer David Socarras (pictured above on left), who doesn’t appreciate his photo being taken.

While hundreds will most likely get arrested this weekend for offenses as petty as inadvertently stepping into the street or lingering too long on a sidewalk, most will probably not get convicted, if previous years are an indicator, said Odom.

My case was dismissed when Socarras failed to attend the trial on two separate occasions.

Regardless, it’s still enough to ruin a good weekend.


New Laws
Miami Beach Police spokesman Juan Sanchez said the accusations of police heavy-handedness are unwarranted.

“We want people to come down here and have a good time,” he said. “We have rules and regulations that need to be followed. We’re not going to overlook crime.”

And on this weekend, the word “crime” will take a very broad definition.

Beginning on Memorial Day Weekend, police will be cracking down on open containers on the beach. They are even going as far as forbidding the oceanfront hotels from selling alcohol to people on the beach.

Miami Beach City Attorney Jose Smith suddenly decided that this longtime practice is against the law.

The fact that this new law will be enforced on Memorial Day Week when hordes of blacks descend upon the beach is purely coincidental, according to the Miami Herald.

Only time will tell if this ban will miraculously be lifted after Memorial Day Weekend.


The controversy erupted in 2001 when more than 250,000 black people descended upon South Beach for Memorial Day Weekend, taking residents, service industry workers and police officers by surprise.

By the time it was over, there were three reported shootings, two stabbings and three sexual assaults as well as more than 200 arrests.

Police had essentially lost control of the streets, according to several news reports.

But by 2002, police were better prepared, beefing up patrols, donning riot gear and making more than 300 arrests.

And in turn, the crowds were reportedly better behaved.

Nevertheless, many locals had already fled the beach for the weekend and continue to do so today.

And over the years, the tensions between police and the hip hop visitors continued to escalate.

In 2006, more than 1,000 people were arrested on Memorial Day Weekend, prompting accusations of racial profiling from the NAACP and the ACLU.

Most of these arrests were for misdemeanors that are normally handled with simple citations.

Last year, police made 548 arrests during the Memorial Day Weekend, including 452 misdemeanor arrests and 96 felony arrests.

“A total of 31 guns were confiscated during the weekend,” Sanchez added.

To be able to put these numbers into perspective, one would have to compare them to the number of arrests that take place on other weekends.

Sanchez said that to make the comparison even more accurate, we would have to compare the number of arrests from Memorial Day Weekend to weekends like the Super Bowl or New Year’s Eve when the police department implements what it calls a “contingency plan.”

That is when they bring in officers from outside agencies to beef up enforcement actions.

However, the Miami Beach Police Department was unable to produce statistics from those weekends in time for this article despite numerous requests.

But it doesn’t take figures to see the obvious; that officers probably see this as an opportunity to cash in on some serious overtime.

The City of Miami Beach budgets about $855,000 for the police department during the Memorial Day Weekend.

But none of that money goes towards the 15 outside agencies that descend upon South Beach that weekend to assist with the crackdown on revelers, said Miami Beach spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez.

Those officers are paid by their own departments under a mutual aid agreement, she said.

Whether they purposely turn a high number of arrests in order to justify the overtime they are receiving can only be answered by them.

But they’re not talking.


Culture Clash
Today, many locals flee South Beach during Memorial Day Weekend based only on the horror stories they have heard. They have not stuck around to witness it for themselves.

And many who stick around tend to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of blackness on the streets.

But while many of these hip hop aficionados celebrate the “thug culture” that is glamorized in the music, most of it is just fashion and bravado.

The truth is, it’s not cheap to party on South Beach on Memorial Day Weekend. Your typical quart-swigging street thug would not be able to afford the trip.

Most who come down here are young, black professionals with college degrees who have saved up all year to party in the sun for a weekend.

And most of them behave.

If anything, they might be a little louder and boisterous than your average South Beach crowd, which tends to lean on the pretentious side anyway.

But they are not dangerous.

For the past three years, I’ve walked the streets loaded down with expensive cameras and never had an issue.

Except, of course, when I came across Officer Socarras last year.

But then again, I am not a woman. And many women report that the men who come down on Memorial Day Weekend are just a little too aggressive for their tastes.

However, most of the hip hop activity - and arrests - take place within a 12-block radius between 5th and 17th Streets and between the 2-block radius of Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue.

Lincoln Road, which is normally bustling with pedestrians, can become a virtual ghost town.

So maybe you’ll finally get the attention you deserve from restaurant servers.

Be sure to check out the video from last year’s Memorial Day Weekend below.



Photos and video by Carlos Miller

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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20 Comments on

"It’s Hip Hop Weekend. Don’t Forget Your Bail Money"

Jess says:

In the photo with the red scooter, is the guy holding his cap in handcuffs? It looks like he has been arrested?
Enforcing the no alcohol on the beach is maybe a way of keeping the crowds in control. Sort of pre empting the situation. Surely it’s better to stop them getting trashed on the beach than dealing with them drunk later.

Posted on 05/27/2010 at 9:28 AM

Carlos Miller says:

No, that guy was not handcuffed when I took that photo. He was just holding his cap.

Posted on 05/27/2010 at 9:44 AM

rk says:

Very interesting article. Thanks.

Posted on 05/27/2010 at 5:12 PM

Sunaddicted says:

I will confirm the comment on Lincoln although two years ago we had a murder or was it two right off lincoln at Davids II if I remember correctly. Last year we went to Lincoln and it was eerily quiet. We can also say that walking/running on Ocean and the beachwalk is perfectly okay if you do it early in the morning. You will catch people who haven’t been to bed yet but that happens all year long. We will be in Miami Beach all weekend for our last stay until the fall :-(, time to put up the shutters and go to the “country house”.

Posted on 05/27/2010 at 5:17 PM

Kasha says:

I have to leave my South Beach condo every Memorial Day “they” wreck everything “they” do their best to turn SoBe into a Newark black ghetto…..its just awful the damage and the criminal activities they do every year. It takes 400 police just to keep it from exploding. It will be very dangerous to be on the street this weekend if you are white.

Posted on 05/28/2010 at 2:34 PM

Caye says:

Been a resident for a while now, and even the bums leave the beach in Memorial weekend. It is not the blues vs. everyone else, it is law-abiding citizens vs. thugs, whores and pimps.
It is funny how the wine and food festival brings in more money but not so much chaos; different kind of folks, that’s what makes the difference

Posted on 05/28/2010 at 3:39 PM

Tim Jones says:

This article is a joke. It is very usual for those who violate the law to blame the system. It is clearly picturing the police officers as racially biased criminals. The crowd that comes down on this weekend is mostly, although not all, pimps, whores, and thugs, as Caye mentioned earlier. The hospitality industry workers don’t want to work this particular weekend, because they get humiliated and are never tipped for their services. I don’t think it’s that dangerous for a white individual to walk down the street, because most of the crowd is high and mellow on marijuana, and afterall most of the crime committed this weekend is either interracial (meaning black on black), or crime against city ordinances. Just try not to walk in a dark alley after midnight, other than that you’ll be fine. During this weekend the beach becomes trashed, flyers, empty bottles of liquer, condoms, blunts, cigarette butts, chicken wing bones etc all over the street. The traffic is horrible because everybody wants to stop and show off their $2000 car with $5000 rims in it and the Lambourghini doors. Last time I went to South Beach onn Memorial Weekend I witnessed something disturbing: around 50 black man spanking and recording three black girls who were doing different movements and exhibits with their private parts (vagina and anus). You definitely don’t want your children around there. I have interviewed a few Haitian taxi drivers who told me that they refuse to work on this weekend because they’ve gotten robbed at gunpoint in the past from this crowd. I am a Miamian and avoid South Beach at all cost during Memorial weekend. If you still want to come down to South Florida during that time, try Fort Lauderdale instead.

Posted on 05/31/2010 at 6:15 AM

Ted says:

What a ridiculous article, are you blind? These thugs cause so much damage and make such a mess, they are loud and obnoxius. I say double the police and make it an offense to congregate in goups of more than 4. Call it a gang assembly ordinance and if more than 4 people are together arrest them all.

Posted on 05/31/2010 at 3:17 PM

Ric says:

It’s a shame that people can act so uncivilized.  In the Atlanta area Freaknik is equally appalling.  The strange dancing, sex in public, the “mean muggin” and the stupidy all suck.  Any time I have to go into that sort of environment I ALWAYS pack plenty of heat with spare mags.

Posted on 05/31/2010 at 9:30 PM

Sir Gnarls Barkley says:

Freaknik in Atlanta hasn’t taken place for at least 10 years, Ric.

Posted on 06/01/2010 at 11:16 AM

Unknown says:

Most people aren’t dangerous? What about the three different shootings on Ocean Drive in front of Johnny Rockets on Friday and Saturday nights? Too many thugs on the streets. The major of Miami Beach needs to remove this event from our beaches. Go pollute, rob, rape, beat up, and kill people somewhere else.

Posted on 06/01/2010 at 2:08 PM

H says:

I sincerely believe this whole event cheapens the Beach. I don’t feel like writing a long comment, but I’ll just say that locals that flee South Beach that weekend are NOT just a bunch of misguided simpletons scared by crazy rumors, most of them have experienced the event and don’t want to be there for it again, so they spend their money in a bad economy and run…

Posted on 06/02/2010 at 1:34 AM

H says:

I forgot to say one thing: about attendees getting gouged, yes they absolutely do. I think I would expect it (kind of like when you go to a theme park and buy food), but it’s true, prices go up wildly.

To be fair on any given weekend some prices go up (gas is like 50cents more expensive on weekends in south beach), but nothing like this.

Posted on 06/02/2010 at 1:43 AM

ODoc says:

Im a white doctor from Australia, and I visited the SOBE on Memorial weekend. Ive never seen anything like this in my life. It was awesome. Definitely comming back.

Posted on 06/02/2010 at 2:01 AM

Ric says:

I know Freaknik hasn’t been on for some time now, thank goodness.  That was a 90’s thing.  It was a real pain in the neck going down there to Grady Hospital in the med unit.  We couldn’t even get respect driving an ambulance around there.

Posted on 06/02/2010 at 6:35 AM

josh Wilson says:

What a crazy Memorial Weekend in Miami Beach. I caught Miami Beach Police shooting on cam… check out the original Video:

Posted on 05/30/2011 at 3:50 PM

MyName says:

I lived in Atlanta for years. When Freaknik came to town, we cleaned the dust off our weapons, boarded up the windows in our homes and shops, and hunkered down for three days of living in the stone age. This is what “black culture” has brought to America. Third world, uncivilized savagery. The barbarism was horrific. Only the central jungles of Africa could be more insanely uncivilized. The black brought drugs, violence, and crime. Just look at Detroit.

Posted on 07/12/2011 at 2:02 PM

Flamingo33139 says:

Thursday, 3:30pm, Urban Beach Weekend, audible and visual impact at Ninth and Jefferson. None.  Stay tuned.

Posted on 05/24/2012 at 1:32 PM

Caye says:

And it is baaaack… Time to either barricade yourself at home, or leave for Key West for the weekend. Pimps, thugs and whores unite under one banner once again to celebrate the destruction of both Miami Beach and African American culture.

Posted on 05/25/2012 at 3:50 PM

Moses O'Brien says:

LOL… yeah right… and that’s why Atlanta with a black mayor shut down Freaknik because he was afraid of all the “blackness”.  More like he was fed up with all the chaos, crime and property damage.

Unfortunately, seems like whenever large groups of blacks gather there’s trouble, property damage, theft, shootings, etc.  County fairs now have roving packs of black “youths” attacking white people for the thrill of it all. Same thing in Philadelphia and other places and just like the black mayor of Philly Nutter says if you want white people… Asian people… whoever… to start respecting you quit attacking them.

A former girlfriend of mine in St Louis (black) refused to work black crowds/shows at the nightclub she worked because they were rude, pinched/groped her, did NOT tip, and invariably the police would have to show up sometime during the night. A couple of times she came home crying she was so upset so she said enough is enough. She didn’t do it because she was racist she did it because it happened over and over again and she’s a realist. Ironically she said the redneck country bands/crowds tipped the best and were the most polite.

I also have tenants in South Beach and they tell me they get out every year not even locking themselves in the apartment is good enough because thugs ran up and down streets ripping mirrors off of and damaging parked cars… for fun.

None of this has to do with racism it has to do with reality. If a pack of white dogs walks past you wagging their tails and a pack of black dogs bites you on the legs after enough of these sort of occurrences you start to figure it out.

I have quite a few older black friends in their 50s and they tell me that growing up they weren’t angels and neither was I but compared to the new crop coming up even they’re disgusted by what they see. No respect for anyone not even their elders or themselves… just disrespecting everything in sight.

Posted on 05/28/2012 at 9:14 AM

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