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THERE'S NOTHING BENIGN IN THE NEGLECT OF THE HOUSING PROJECT CALLED PORK & BEANS. IT'S JUST AN OUTRIGHT INDICTMENT OF THE RACISM AND EXPLOITATION BY MOSTLY WHITE, BUT ALSO CUBAN AND BLACK POLITICIANS, THAT HAS GONE ON IN THIS COMMUNITY FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
NUMBER 19 - APRIL 13, 2018
I didn't know, but wasn't surprised when I learned a couple weeks ago that back in the day when Julia Tuttle and the rest of the white folks who were looking to create the City of Miami needed to hold a vote in order to incorporate, they allowed the Black folks then living in the area the right to vote for a day so that they could get enough votes so Miami could become a city.
I grew up in segregated Miami, went to segregated schools, rode my bicycle through segregated Miami, and heard and saw segregated justice as it was practiced in the 1950's in places like the court room of Judge Ben E. Willard, who called all Black men "Boy," and who thought so highly of Robert E. Lee, that when he heard that a white guy named Robert E. Lee had been arrested and was going to spend the weekend in the Dade County Jail for some stupid shit he had done - the jail was then on the top floors of the courthouse at 73 West Flagler Street - issued an order releasing him from jail, because in his mind, no white man named Robert E. Lee needed to spend a weekend in his jail
Miami was just as batshit crazy a place to live in then as it is now.
Over the years, as in other communities, countless words have been written and spoken about race and racism as it played out in Miami, and I have on occasion expressed my own opinions on this blog, but words alone, no matter how eloquently, profound or insightful they might be can fully explain or capture the implications of what life in a housing project like Pork & Beans can do to your psyche or your soul, and throughout it all local politicians have often behaved in shameful and negligent ways that only after the fact were seen to have made things worse.
TRUSTING POLITICIANS CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH
There should be no congratulations for Mayor Carlos Gimenez and today's County Commissioners because of his proposal and their recent votes to tear this project down. That proposal and their votes should have happened ten years or twenty years ago.
There should be no congratulations for the decision by the Governor to temporarily assign Highway Patrol officers to join county and city police in patrolling the area around the project, because these actions are little more than political band aids initiated by a guy whose running for U.S. Senator, and by local politicians who no doubt in their hearts believe that they are good Christians doing God's work, but who are clueless about what to do, and at the mercy of competing interests and demands for public dollars.
There should be no congratulations because the Miami Police Department and the Metro-Dade Police Department are now going to work together to patrol the area. How many killings of how many children over how many years did it take for this to become a decision that should have been going on for years and years.
To be honest there are few clear cut, palatable solutions as to how a society, and especially our society, that at it's core was founded on the inhumane inequality and racism produced by slavery can begin to deal with the resulting permanent underclass of poor people created as a result of all the well intentioned, as well as sometimes misguided and even at times the downright evil actions of so many people.
None of us who've not experienced this first hand can know what it really means to live in Pork & Beans, or similar housing projects that have created conditions for lives to be shaped and scared by poverty, neglect, abuse, violence, lack of quality educational opportunities, lack of adequate medical care and worst of all, the grinding day-in-and-day-out realization that the expectations and dreams of the American Dream projected on television and movies are seldom, if ever, going to be theirs, but it's not impossible to have some empathy for the visible evidence of what occurs.
Professional politicians think that they can talk the talk, but very few of them can walk the walk, and occasional "visits" do little but feed the mistrust that decades of bad decisions that have compounded so many of today's problems.
How many "visits" have Miami Mayors and Police Chiefs made to what are still essentially ghetto neighborhoods after the shootings of little children and teenagers, and how many more little children and teenagers have been killed after those visits???
I don't personally dislike many of the people I write about all the time including Francis Suarez. I think at heart he tries to be a decent guy whose a loving father and husband, and who in his own way means well for the city, but at the same time I have become concerned at the manipulative way that he has behaved in his short time as Mayor in attempting to craft an image that is obviously being manufactured one photograph at a time, including the two below that were part of a Twitter caption claiming, "Walking hand-in-hand with our community at the #ModelCity Peace Walk."
It is morally duplicitous and dangerous to one's soul to use children as props, and clearly these photographs didn't just happen. There's a photographer that follows Suarez around, and Suarez knows he's being followed because it's his photographer, and he's smart enough to seize the opportunities to create these situations and images that immediately pop up on Twitter.
In fact, there was a 3rd photograph that had Suarez with his hand on a young boy standing in front him, that was also posted on Wednesday night, but was removed by Thursday morning, perhaps because Suarez photographed with 3 children at the same event was seen as one too many staged shots.
There has been a very conscious and calculating effort going on since Suarez became Mayor, for him, his City Manager and his Chief of Police to style and profile in crafting and manipulating a very conscious public image that I have not been seen in the previous 9 years by politicians in Miami City Hall. Commissioner Ken Russell, aka "Selfie Boy," is another example of this behavior.
Francis Suarez is obviously driven by an ambition that includes higher public office, and the illusion that he's somehow gotten into his head that it will all get easier and better if he can just become a Strong Mayor is a nightmare fantasy, not only because he is his father's son, but because he's owned lock, stock and barrel by the developers, realtors and contractors who've donated millions to his political campaigns and some of whom only care about the Black sections of Miami as a place where they can slowly but relentlessly keep forcing poor Black people off of their property so that they can redevelop it with high-rise condos and upscale housing.
IT'S ALWAYS DO WHAT WE SAY, BECAUSE WE KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOU
On Thursday, a round table including Carlos Gimenez, the County Mayor, Francis Suarez, the City of Miami Mayor, their respective police chiefs, County Commissioner Bovo, Edmonson and Cava, along with 6 other folks I couldn't identify met to discuss how to stop the gun violence.
After the meeting, the Miami Police Department and Glenna Millburg from ABC, Channel 10, tweeted messages:
It wasn't a very long march, and the "crowd" didn't grow by leaps and bounds, and once inside the projects, most of the marchers were kept on a street corner while Francis Suarez, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson walked to one of the buildings where supposedly some of the recent murders had occurred. It was there that I shot the following video.
Midway through this guy talking, one of the Chief's Assistants walked in and broke it up, directing everyone to go back to the street corner where most people had been stopped.
Here is the video that I shot at the street corner.
Carlos Gimenez left first, followed by Francis Suarez, and as I left I saw folks who hadn't been at the march, or on the street corner, doing what they normally do, trying to survive and stay alive.
HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS THAT I TOOK.
Also on Thursday, CBS, Channel 4, broadcast a story about one of the Stoneman Douglas High School survivors.
Yes, there are obviously major differences between a poor, Black community mired in repeated gun violence that takes the lives of children and teenagers on an almost weekly basis, and a largely White affluent community that just went through a horrific act of terrorism.
Both communities are suffering, and both communities are struggling to find solutions that will insure that the violence doesn't repeat itself.
There are also stark differences between these communities that include the fact that the Black community has gone through this so-called process of trying to find solutions so many times that it's evident from the lack of community participation at the march on Wednesday, to the fact that Thursday's meeting was exclusively between politicians and cops and government officials, that a response from many in the Black community to Thursday's meeting, and Commission Chairman Bovo's admonition about wasting time will probably anger some folks who've seen and heard this kind of, "You'll do what we think is right," talk before.
Not that folks in Pork & Beans don't want solutions, because they desperately do, but the perception about what constitutes solutions in the Black community seldom, if ever, includes a discussion, must less a demand that part of any solution for the survivors of these shootings should include the same request that the high schooler from Parkland and her lawyer make that, "the State of Florida should pay for the counseling and it should be available to victims from now into the future wherever they are across the US."
A sense of entitlement, and a willingness to demand that that entitlement be respected and accommodated by the politicians is one of the stark differences between Parkland, Florida and the Pork & Bean's housing project in Miami, and the proof of that is that the kids in Pork and Beans don't have any lawyers standing up on their behalf like the kid in Parkland saying that, "If it's not put together because it's too difficult, I'm not going to stand for that because it has to be done."
Instead,once again, you've got some politician claiming after a meeting comprised of fellow politicans and cops that after coming up with a solution that they think is right, the folks in the community have to go along with it, because if not, "we are wasting our time."
Just whose time is he talking about?
In my opinion, if Bovo is implying that if they've come up with a solution(s) that doesn't warrant discussion or collaboration and possibly significant changes by a larger group in the community - in White areas they're referred to as stakeholders by politicians - then he just another ignorant, dumb fuck politician whose mistaken the difference between being a public servant and more like a tin-horn Banana Republic dictator, because neither short term, or long term, can a single meeting among a handful of politicians and cops begin to come close to trying to solve the problems that decades of neglect have caused.
Of course, that's if you really want to solve problems. If you just want to paper them over, so you can walk away as fast as you can, and then claim that your so-called plan didn't work because the folks in the community didn't want to go along with it, then, welcome to Miami, Bitches!, because that's been what's been happening here for a long, long time.
THE PEACE MARCH
Wednesday's march started out with as many, if not more, cops, news media and politicians than with people from the projects.
It seems that when the Chief of Police goes somewhere nowadays, his whole Command Staff comes along and then follows him around like puppy dogs.