The Miami-Dade County chapter of the NAACP is calling for the resignations of City Manager Jimmy Morales and Police Chief Richard Clements after viral videos surfaced in which Miami police officers exhibit violent behavior toward black spring breakers.
According to the Miami New Times and the Miami Herald, police were filmed beating a woman’s head into the street, tackling and punching other patrons, and shooting someone on Ocean Drive during an ugly brawl outside of a South Beach bar on Wednesday.
Once the videos began to circulate online, the NAACP was one of several local organizations that got wind of the officers’ alleged misconduct and jumped into action.
“What I saw there was a blatant disregard and disrespect for the visitors—black visitors—on the beach and somehow it appeared to me that they had the approval to do so,” Ruben Roberts, chairman of the Miami-Dade NAACP, told WPLG.
The NAACP’s list of demands include the resignations of Morales and Clements, the establishment of a civilian oversight panel, the development of a new police training program, and a ban on the use of excessive force by police officers.
During a press conference on Friday, while surrounded by members of the ACLU and Miami’s Civilian Oversight Panel, Roberts blasted the police for their “racist” behavior and called out Police Chief Clements and Mayor Dan Gelber.
From the Herald:
Police were wearing “paramilitary gear with machine guns that shoot paint balls,” Roberts said. “I call for this issue to be investigated. [...] They need to hire more black police officers and they need to have more black officers in the command staff.”
Jeanne Baker, who chairs the police practice committee of the ACLU of Florida, said Miami Beach “has a long and troubled history of racial discrimination.” She, too, called for a more diverse police department.
Former Florida state Sen. Dwight Bullard believes this is merely the latest example of long-standing issues with the Miami Beach police.
“It’s either a reflection of leadership, or training, or both,” he said.
Clements has launched an internal investigation into what transpired, but in speaking with the Herald, he refused to condemn the actions of his police force.
“If you come to Miami Beach to cause problems, we will intervene and take enforcement action,” Clements said in a statement.