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South Florida One Year After George Floyd's Murder, Miami Beach Preps For Memorial Day Weekend

Al Diaz
Miami Herald
Johnny, at center, screams as he joins fellow demonstrators during George Floyd protest in downtown Miami on Saturday, May 30, 2020.

Reflecting on the racial justice movement a year after George Floyd’s death and Miami Beach prepares for massive crowds this Memorial Day.

On this Thursday, May 27th episode of Sundial:

South Florida One Year After George Floyd's Murder

This time last year, Black Lives Matter protests erupted around the world. They were prompted by the police killing of George Floyd.

South Florida saw its share of protests, bringing attention to local police violence and accountability issues.

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“There has been some progress and we still have a long way to go. But I think most of us felt last year that something different, something palpable was happening in our atmosphere that hadn't happened before,” said Kerry-Ann Royes, who is CEO of the YWCA South Florida, which is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women.

She joined Sundial to talk about the impact of this movement and whether it led to any actual change.

Broward County and West Palm Beach created equity task forces after last year’s social justice protests. Miami-Dade County followed with creating an Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“It's only enough if the task force is supported by people of influence and if it's given real decision-making power, otherwise it's not just lip service,” said Royes.

The YWCA South Florida is celebrating 100 years with a virtual event Thursday, June 3. They will be hearing from women who are pushing for change in South Florida. Find more information here.

South Florida One Year After George Floyd's Murder

Miami Beach Preps For Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend traditionally brings thousands of visitors to South Florida, with Miami Beach at the epicenter of all the action.

This weekend is expected to be particularly busy, given the large numbers of Americans who’ve been vaccinated. In the past, the surge of tourists on Miami Beach has led to incidents with police.

Just this past Spring Break, videos captured a SWAT car and a subsequent stampede of tourists, some stomping on top of parked cars after a curfew was called for 8 p.m.

“I think the goodwill ambassadors don't get a lot of credit for the great stuff that they do,” said Glendon Hall, the chair of the Black Affairs Advisory Committee on the Miami Beach Commission, about the people who volunteer to serve as a buffer between people engaging with police.

“They were dispersing the crowd because a lot of the crowd didn't even know that there was a curfew coming up.”

There are rules in place to try and control the crowds and reduce criminal incidents.

Officers from other departments have offered help to the Miami Beach Police Department.

“If we have to police our way out of it, we will. But I'd rather do it through zoning. I'd rather do it with programming. I'd rather do it by projecting out to the world who we are,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, who is pushing for the city’s brand to move away from its wild party identity.

“Unfortunately, during Memorial Day, but also Spring Break, we are hugely attractive to immense crowds that include people that have intentions that aren't consistent with civil behavior.”

Hall added that the SWAT car that showed up during Spring Break was an example of police showing deadly force when not necessary, leading to the violence and commotion that was reported.

“Having that kind of response is also messing up the [city’s] brand,” Hall said.

Miami Beach Preps For Memorial Day Weekend

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Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the lead producer behind WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.