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Former Miami Dolphins coach’s discrimination lawsuit, ‘When Liberty Burns’ premieres on WLRN TV

Then-head coach Brian Flores talks with Miami Dolphins center Michael Deiter before the start of their game against the Patriots on Jan. 9.
Willfredo Lee
Then-head coach Brian Flores talks with Miami Dolphins center Michael Deiter before the start of their game against the Patriots on Jan. 9.

The Miami Dolphins' former head coach is suing the team and the NFL for discrimination. It was almost 42 years ago when the McDuffie Rebellion broke out and changed Miami forever. We’re talking about the feature documentary about that time, “When Liberty Burns.”

On this Wednesday, February 2, edition of Sundial:

Former Miami Dolphins coach’s discrimination lawsuit

It was a shock to a lot of folks in football when the Miami Dolphins fired their head coach Brian Flores. He was one of just a few Black head coaches in the National Football League. Without him, there's only one left.

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The NFL has faced years of scrutiny for its hiring practices and the lack of Black and minority ownership, management, and coaches in the league.

On Tuesday, Flores filed a class-action lawsuit claiming racial discrimination. He's suing the league and all of the teams.

“The big piece of evidence will be the statistics. The NFL's hiring statistics on minority candidates for head coaching and high-level, front office positions are poor and have been for decades. Those statistics certainly constitute circumstantial evidence of a race problem, and then there may be other things that he gets through discovery that would also point to race discrimination issues,” said Michael Elkins, partner and founder of MLE Law. He is also the host of the “Quarter Four” podcast, which explores the intersection between sports, business and lifestyle.

In the lawsuit, Flores also made some claims that the owner of the Dolphins, Stephen Ross, offered him money to lose games in 2019, in order to get the first pick in the next draft.

“Take a flight. Go on vacation. I'll give you a hundred thousand dollars per loss. Those are just exact words….Look, I deal in truth. My trust was lost, and there were certainly some strained relationships. And ultimately, I think that was to my demise in Miami,” said Flores on ESPN Wednesday.

We also heard this week’s Latin America Report about the new book “Dilma’s Downfall: The Impeachment of Brazil’s First Woman President and the Pathway to Power for Jair Bolsonaro’s Far-Right.” Find more on that story here.

Former Miami Dolphins coach’s discrimination lawsuit
brian flores dolphins

‘When Liberty Burns’ premieres on WLRN TV

Forty-two years ago this May, the 1980 McDuffie rebellion, often called the McDuffie Riots, broke out in Miami. Arthur McDuffie, who was a black insurance salesman and former marine, ran a red light. Then he was chased by police — and brutally beaten to death.

The violence and rage that ensued on the streets came after the Miami-Dade County police officers involved in the case were found not guilty of his death.

Haitian-American filmmaker Dudley Alexis tells McDuffie's story in his feature documentary called “When Liberty Burns.”

In honor of WLRN TV airing the two-hour documentary in a special WLRN original presentation February 2 at 9 p.m., we revisited two conversations from previous episodes of Sundial that look at race relations in Miami during that time.

First, we spoke with Dudley Alexis about his film, in the spring of 2020.

We also spoke with Femi Folami Browne back in the summer of 2020 — shortly after the death of George Floyd was radiating around the nation. She was in Miami when the rebellion happened in 1980, and she remembers that time here well. Browne shared her thoughts on race relations then and now.

She also helped produce the film "When Liberty Burns," which tells McDuffie's story.

‘When Liberty Burns’ premiers on WLRN TV

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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.