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Enforcing Face Masks, New Report On Police Accountability, Federal Bill Might 'Save Our Stages'

Gramps owner Adam Gersten works on his phone inside the closed bar in Miami, Florida, on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Miami Herald
Gramps owner Adam Gersten works on his phone inside the closed bar in Miami, Florida, on Monday, March 16, 2020.

On this Monday, August 10, episode of Sundial:

Enforcing Mask Mandates

Health experts have been insistent that face masks prevent the spread of COVID-19. Officials across South Florida have followed this advice by imposing mask mandates and social distancing guidelines.

As case numbers continue to increase, lawmakers are turning to law enforcement to ensure people are following these rules. Fines, arrests, and jail time have been introduced in South Florida as ways to impose the mandates.

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“Businesses have to enforce those policies too, and if they don't have customers or clients or patrons following the rules, the businesses can also be cited. And those businesses can be shut down, so they face, in a way, stricter penalties,” said WLRN reporter Jenny Staletovich.

We spoke with Staletovich about the mask enforcement legislation and what the penalties look like in South Florida’s different counties.

Investigation Into Police Brutality Through Viral Videos

Three months after George Floyd’s death, Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality have continued in South Florida and across the country. Throughout these protests, there have been numerous instances of police using tear gas, foam bullets, and other forceful tactics against those participating.

A new investigation from ProPublica examined 68 viral videos from Black Lives Matter Protests since May 28th that include altercations between the police and protestors from across the country. The report found that the disciplinary actions and investigations into officers’ behavior varied greatly from department to department.

“At the time of our publication, we have the names of only officers for 17 of the 80 cases,” said Mollie Simon, a research fellow at ProPublica. “There have been instances where we have seen discipline, but it is a minority of cases.”

We spoke with Simon about the investigation, as well as videos from Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

New Federal Bill Attempts to “Save Our Stages”

For almost 6 months, concert and performance spaces have been shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many venues in South Florida were already operating on very thin margins. These months without ticket sales and patrons have been devastating to these venues.

The Save Our Stages bill was introduced in Congress last month to help give these venues some relief. It includes billions of dollars in grants to independent venues to cover their basic expenses and wages for workers.

“I think what people just need to understand and remember is that the art of storytelling and music has been around and is one of the oldest things in history and has always survived. So I think that we, as a people, need to continue to remember how much it means to us and has meant to us to congregate, to come together, to be around people, to be filled with music, to be filled with joy,” said Christine Barclay, who runs Barclay Productions, a professional and children’s theater production company in West Boca.

We spoke with Barclay and Adam Gersten, the owner of Gramps in Miami, about the impact of the pandemic on the future of live performances spaces and what the passing of the Save Our Stages bill would mean for South Florida’s arts venues.

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.