But the festivities are being tarnished by gun violence. During the wee hours of Sunday morning, several shootings took place on South Beach. The most serious one took place around 4 a.m. on Collins Avenue. According to reports, a man was involved in a crash with a police car and attempted to hit an officer. Police surrounded the man, firing multiple rounds into his vehicle until he died. Four bystanders were shot, and three officers were wounded. The Miami Police Department has yet to declare if the suspect was armed.
The shootout was captured by a witness who placed the video on YouTube.
Nearly one hour later, a female police officer opened fire on a car that was moving toward her, but no one was severely injured.
Urban Beach Week is rapidly becoming the ghost of Freaknik past. Most of the 20-somethings in attendance are too young to remember Atlanta’s Freaknik festivals during the 1990s, but the issues are similar. Like Freaknik, Urban Beach Week also causes residents to complain about traffic. On Saturday night, it took two hours to cross the 95 South bridge to enter South Beach. Loiterers, drunken rowdiness and young women who dress more provocatively than strippers are condemned by residents who believe Urban Beach Week is an eyesore to their city.
Race is also a key factor. Dozens of Miami residents vented on Miami Herald’s website to voice their displeasure. “Yep, it was Urban this weekend. Very loud music coming from cars, screaming at all hours of the night. Why can’t they hold this ‘Urban’ weekend somewhere else. That shooting shows it’s warfare. Anyone want to take odds on the race of those involved in both of the shootings,” posted by a Miami resident named Miron.
The ACLU protested against racial profiling at Urban Beach Week in 2006 when over 1,000 young black people were arrested. Last year, only 341 people were arrested during the weekend.
Ultimately, the hip-hop community will take most of the blame. Although racial profiling should always be monitored, it’s important to not ignore the ramifications of what happens when prominent voices within the hip-hop culture celebrate violence instead of offer solutions. When Lil Wayne raps, “Load up the choppers [automatic rifles] like it’s December 31st, roll up and cock it and hit them n—-s where it hurts,” it’s definitely not an invitation for peace. As a result, some young men and women have embraced the words of Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Waka Flocka and accepted the thug and whore roles that are often reinforced by those artists. It’s apparent when walking on South Beach.
Over 200,000 people attended Urban Beach Weekend and added a boost to Miami’s economy that’s on par with the Super Bowl. Hip-hop artists also received hefty paydays due to concert performances and club appearances.
However, the money that the weekend generates will disappear if hip-hop’s most influential voices don’t take a stand and encourage partygoers to come in peace and avoid disruption. Freaknik was shut down 15 years ago, and there are numerous reasons to believe that Urban Beach Week will experience a similar fate. –amir shaw