Residents Organize 'Miami Springs For Justice' To Fight Against Racism In The Community
Days after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police, sparking protests across the country against police brutality, Amanda Valdespino posted a message to the Miami Springs community Facebook page.
She shared how frustrated she was with her community and local officials’ silence surrounding racism and violent acts by police.
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“The page was just kind of going on about business, talking about, you know, things for sale… that there was a loose dog somewhere,” she said.
Miami Springs is where she has lived all her life, over 20 years.
The Facebook post received more than 700 comments from members of the private page. Although some of it was supportive, Valdespino says many of the replies seemed threatening and racist.
“There was one person who literally said ‘it's why we live here,’ like why we live in Springs. ‘We like the demographics.’”
The small city of Miami Springs is located adjacent to Miami International Airport and the city of Hialeah. It has a population of about 14,000, with the majority being white and white Hispanic.
Less than two percent of the city's population identifies as Black, according to the most recent U.S. Census.
“I think there is this well known idea that Miami Springs is somewhat of this insular community,” said Valdespino. “Anything that might be going on in the surrounding area, somehow this city is still the same or is not affected.”
Along with other residents, Valdespino then created the Miami Springs for Justice group.
Through use of social media, the group encourages followers to be active locally by contacting the mayor and city council members, and by speaking up at city council meetings.
“I hosted a Zoom meeting … trying to formalize what are the statements that Amanada was going to make to the city council,” said Angelica Ruiz, member of the justice group and long-time resident of Miami Springs.
A solidarity walk within the community was held June 20 to raise funds for the organization Save the Kids From Incarceration. More than 80 people attended.
Miami Springs joins several other smaller cities and towns across South Florida organizing protests and activism within their communities since the death of George Floyd — and in response to other recent killings of Black people by police, including Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade.
What followers and members of the Miami Springs for Justice group want is for local leaders to denounce institutionalized racism. They want better education surrounding social injustice, as well as funds from the Miami Springs Police Department to be used towards the community.
“I knew I had to do something, because this is really important,” said Ruiz. “When an institution does not work for the people, for the public, that's when that system needs to be changed.”