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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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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"Memorial Day Mayhem 2011 (Video)"