Heard On Sundial: Miami Gardens Police Reform, Florida’s Pandemic Response, LGBTQ Workers' Rights

Jun 16, 2020

On this Tuesday, June 16, episode of Sundial:

Miami Gardens Mayor On Improving Policing 

Cities across the country are grappling with how to reform their police departments to hold officers accountable and prevent violence against black communities.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert argues, their city has been a leader on this front. Their department offers hiring preference to candidates with a local address and at least 50 percent of his officers are Black. Some advocates say those reforms aren’t enough. 

In these uncertain times, you can rely on WLRN to keep you current on local news and information. Your support is what keeps WLRN strong. Please become a member today. Donate Now. Thank you.

“Having officers who are familiar with the community will help, but you need other things like accountability if people violate those standards, you need programs that aggressively connect the community and police officers,” said Mayor Gilbert. “It’s not a magic pill. And I think a lot of times in politics and in policy they treat it like it is, you can do this one thing and it’ll make it better, that’s not how that works.”

We spoke with Gilbert, who is also running for the Miami-Dade County Commission District 1 seat. He’s facing Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, in that race.

“Divided States Of The Pandemic”

Coronavirus cases in Florida continue to rise. The state’s Department of Health announced more than 80,000 residents have tested positive for the virus and there have been nearly 3,000 deaths. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended the state’s decision to reopen the economy in phases despite the rising cases, arguing more people are getting tested. When the global pandemic began three months ago, officials at the local level were the ones making tough calls on how to respond.

“It was just sort of advice from the CDC to not be too close together," said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber on responding to the coronavirus pandemic. "You shouldn't be in large gatherings. It felt like it was telling you to avoid bad breath as opposed to a deadly virus."

We heard an excerpt from this week’s episode of Reveal, called “Divided States of the Pandemic.” It compares the decision-making at the start of the public health crisis between California’s Bay Area and South Florida, looking at testing, the federal government's role and when and how the regions reacted. WLRN’s Caitie Switalski co-reported this story with Marisa Lagos of KQED, Northern California’s public media station.

Supreme Court Ruling on LGBTQ Employee Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court decided it is illegal for an employer to fire someone for being gay or transgender. The victory for the LGBTQ community came Monday in a 6-to-3 ruling. 

It gives protection to gay and transgender people from discrimination in the workplace under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That law bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex.

Florida is still an at-will employment state and there’s still the question of protections for religious faith, which the court didn’t address. That has raised concerns for advocates that the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t go far enough. 

“I can’t tell them what to believe when it comes to faith,” said Morgan Mayfaire is the co-founder and director of TransSOCIAL, a non-profit organization supporting LGBTQ communities. “If you care about making money and you want to make your company successful it behooves you to consider LGBTQ employees.”

We spoke to Mayfaire, who also provides training for companies, about the Supreme Court’s decision and its impact here in Florida.