Urban Beach Weekend: Why it needs to end

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Urban Beach Weekend is an annual, totally informal event on South Beach. Tens of thousand of tourists flock here for a three-day celebration of hip hop. It’s long been a point of tension on Miami Beach and this year, after a Sunday night altercation ended with a shooting, a police chase, and a police shooting, Miami Beach city officials are looking for ways to curtail the annual event. 

As an elected Miami Beach City Commissioner, protecting the safety and quality of life of Miami Beach residents is my main duty. I take that job seriously. For over 17 years, tens of thousands of our residents have fled or locked their doors during the Memorial Day holiday weekend due to crime and violence, exponentially more than any other weekend.

With arrests and incidents in the hundreds every year, including two shootings and a stabbing within blocks of my home this past week, it is long past the time we reevaluate how this weekend and all high-impact weekends are handled by our city. Floatopia was a perfect example of a non-sanctioned, promoter-driven annual event in South Beach that had to be ended due to crime, litter, and public safety concerns. I led the effort to end it. Our future ordinances must be sensible, equitable, and NOT have a detrimental impact to our local economy, small businesses, and tourism tax base.

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Miami Beach welcomes all, unless visitors arrive with the intent of abusing people or causing harm. Yes, our city will always have crime, like the incident at the Fontainebleau between two (Miami) Rolling Live attendees.

But the increase during high-impact weekends must end, which includes Memorial Day. “Urban Beach Week,” a moniker created by the online promoters of the unsanctioned, unpermitted “event,” would be welcomed in Miami Beach if not for the excessive incidents of crime, such as this year’s reported murder.

The Memorial Day holiday should be about reflection, gratitude, and honoring fallen soldiers. It shouldn’t have to be measured as a success or failure by the number of arrests, shootings, or stabbings that occur.

It is disappointing that anyone would try to make this about race. The issue is about preventing crime in our city. The dialogue must be about protecting Miami Beach, and I encourage all to participate in meaningful, constructive dialogue instead of divisive rhetoric, demagoguery, and false accusations. I will always do what is right for our city and put resident quality of life and public safety first, regardless of the potential controversy it may bring.

Local educator and BMe leader Webber Charles urged Miami to find a way to embrace Urban Beach Weekend’s tourists. You can read it here.