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Memorial Day Mayhem 2011 (Video)

Like in so many previous years, Memorial Day Weekend 2011 ended with loads of controversy after a man was shot dead by police.
May 31, 2011 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Local News  | 9 Comments

Miami’s controversial Urban Beach Week came to an end with frantic news reports depicting a Wild West shootout between police officers and gun-wielding suspects on the streets of Miami Beach in the early hours of Memorial Day Monday.

The initial reports stated that a gunman was killed after he had tried to run over a police officer on Collins Avenue while firing a gun out the window.

The reports described a fiery gun battle between police and the suspect that left four innocent bystanders shot and three police officers hospitalized.

A witness who had recorded the shooting from an apartment above posted the video on Youtube, which showed police surrounding the car and firing a barrage of bullets into it.

Then, an hour later, another police officer shot at another driver who also allegedly tried to run over officers, but he survived and was arrested.

It didn’t take long for Miami Beach commissioner Jerry Libbin to start calling for a Memorial Day Weekend curfew.

And for South Beach gay activist Herb Sosa to write an open letter to the commission, calling South Beach a “war zone” because of the alleged “drive-by shooting.”

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And for local residents – who have been fleeing Miami Beach on Memorial Day Weekend for years – to take up the cause as well.

But as more details emerged, we learned that police did not find a gun on the man they killed. And that the four bystanders were most likely shot by police.

And now there is a report of a police officer snatching a cell phone camera from a witness who recorded the shooting and smashing it to the ground.

And we still haven’t heard much on the three officers who were hospitalized, including whether or not they were injured by “friendly fire.”

But regardless what actually took place on Monday morning, it is becoming very clear that most locals are fed up with Urban Week.

And it appears that this time, they just might have enough ammunition to kill it altogether.

How bad is it?

But other than skin color, is hip hop weekend different than any other busy weekend, including spring break and the Winter Music Conference?

I was out there on Saturday with my cameras as I have been in previous years, spending a few hours walking the streets, capturing some of the craziness and coming home pretty bored from it all.

There was the usual booty shaking in the streets where women with big butts bend over and shake it in the air, allowing men with shorts hanging below their asses to walk up and grind into them.

Then you have the guys who pack coolers with beer and just hang out on the side of Ocean Drive – which is closed off to traffic over the weekend – and attempt to talk to every female walking by.

On a normal weekend, you would have the same booty mating ritual taking place, but inside the clubs instead of the streets, which means the women would be forced to dress up and the men forced to pay for bottle service instead of packing their coolers with beer. Or Hennessy.

And this year’s Winter Music was marred with violence, including a brutal gang rape and an incident in which a police officer slammed a woman to the ground as he was surrounded by what police call an “angry mob.”

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But Miami Beach residents say the hip hop crowd tend to trash South Beach far worse than the other crowds. And local restaurants say they don’t tip as well, which shouldn’t even be an issue considering most restaurants and bars already incorporate the tip in the final bill.

Apparently, some people are really afraid of snakes

The truth is, it is a more boisterous crowd. They are louder, brasher and rowdier than your normal South Beach crowd, but guess what?

They are apparently afraid of snakes.

Scared enough to create a human stampede down Ocean Drive. That is what apparently happened Saturday night as I videotaping the booty shaking (above video).

Unfortunately, I had my camera turned off to save battery power, waiting for something interesting to happen when suddenly a crowd of people started stampeding north on Ocean Drive.

My first instinct was that there was a shooting, so I turned my camera on and tried to capture the mayhem, but I was immediately bowled over and ended up under a pile of several bodies.

My video camera had turned off in the process, which is why you will only see a split-second of this in the video.

And I was unable to get up because I had at least three people on top of me.

At this point, I’m still thinking that there had been a shooting, so it was a little nerve-racking laying there under strange bodies wondering if a gunman is standing directly over me.

After what seemed like a minute, they started getting off me and somebody even helped me up and asked if I was ok.

I was soaked in alcohol as were my cameras, but everything seemed intact so I wandered down to where the commotion started, wondering what I would find.

Nobody wanted to go on camera to talk about what had happened, but a couple of people said that two girls had been fighting and one appeared to have pulled out a gun, but I didn’t quite buy that because the cops I had interviewed didn’t appeared swayed by the commotion.

And now I just read in the Miami Herald that these stampedes are most likely caused by people panicking over snakes . Yes, snakes.

Libbin, the commissioner, said he was actually upset about Memorial Day weekend because of four “stampedes” of people that destroyed several sidewalk cafes on Ocean Drive — something that also happened last year.

Libbin said officials believe the rush was caused because people became frightened of the large snakes some people bring out to South Beach.

So if community leaders and activists really want to put an end to hip hop weekend, then maybe they should threaten to unleash snakes on South Beach next Memorial Day Weekend.

Photos and video by Carlos Miller

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Update: More Questions Arise As Second Police Shooting Video Is Released

Related Categories: Miami True Crime Stories Miami: Local News,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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9 Comments on

"Memorial Day Mayhem 2011 (Video)"

Matt Meltzer says:

There ya go, Carlos. You really want the Beach full of people who are gonna stampede because of a friggin snake? Sad this shooting and all had to happen, but if it puts an end to Memorial Day Madness and allows those who actually LIVE in the Beach to celebrate the holiday like everyone else in America, then so be it.

Posted on 05/31/2011 at 8:24 PM

Chunky Ballerina says:

OMG them women are ugly! wait… WTF? why is there a white bread girl there?

Posted on 06/02/2011 at 8:53 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

She obviously hates her father.

Posted on 06/02/2011 at 3:49 PM

Christy says:

Memorial Day Weekend just is what it is..My favorite Miami event is Halloween. Lots of people but it’s peaceful and I don’t think it disturbs the locals.

Posted on 06/02/2011 at 3:49 PM

Juan says:

I personally think they are just a bunch of racist people complaining. They are afraid of black people. As to the shooting, the driver was being chased by two motorcycles who shot the driver. When the injured driver coasted to a stop, he was then shot by the cops. The cops overacted because they too are scarred of black people.

Posted on 06/03/2011 at 12:20 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

Again, Juan, if the Society of Black Accountants wanted to have their annual convention here, I don’t think we’d all be clamoring to leave town. Racism is an easy scapegoat to detract from the bad behavior of the people here. Just blame everything on racism, because to argue with that is racist. And these days, being called a racist is about as big an insult as there is.

Posted on 06/05/2011 at 10:19 PM

Juan says:

Matt, it is true that racism is an easy scapegoat. But, not in this case. Take for instance Gay Pride Week. There was a lot of profanity and inappropriate behavior in the streets. But, no one complained. Same for all the other main events such as the boat show. But, if its loud, black people, then we gotta stop that.

Posted on 06/07/2011 at 9:55 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

I must have missed the shooting, stampedes, and hundreds of arrests during the boat show.

Posted on 06/07/2011 at 4:26 PM

JUAN says:

Why yes, I guess you did miss it. There was one shooting, several robberies, several fights, and arrests. As to stampedes, it all depends on what you call a bunch of people pushing and shoving. The point is, that the black folk who attended memorial day are us. That is, they form part of our society. They work, pay taxes, take care of their families, and fight for this country just as you and I do Matt. They bleed the same red blood that you and I bleed. They are entitled to come to the beach and enjoy themselves just like everyone else. What would you do? Would you keep them off in some corner where they don’t bother anyone? Maybe pass an ordinance requiring that they dress according to your standards, and keep their voices down? I don’t think you would be in favor of that Matt.

Posted on 06/07/2011 at 5:28 PM

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