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Updated | Gay activist Herb Sosa: South Beach a 'war zone;' demands end to Urban Weekend (with video)

Update (9:41 p.m. June 1, 2011)

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Since Monday, about a half-million Gay South Florida readers have viewed Herb Sosa's open letter to Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, the Beach commission and "concerned citizens" about Urban Weekend.

Sosa says he's shocked that the blog post went viral, thanks in great part to it being a lead story on The Drudge Report.

"It went crazy," Sosa said Tuesday morning. "People are pissed off. They're upset, What's the right way to take care of the city?"

Sosa, president of Unity Coalition, Miami-Dade County's leading Hispanic gay-rights group, said he's concerned some people have called him racist, after he demanded an end to Urban Weekend.

"It has nothing to do with racism," said Sosa, who lives in South Beach. "It's a lack of respect for the city they're visiting. It's as simple as that. This morning, there were six cars parked on my block with their mirrors ripped off, their antennas ripped off.

"The suggestion that this is a racist issue ... is absolutely ridiculous. If anything, the city of Miami Beach as been more than accommodating to Urban Weekend."

Sosa, an activist who once was executive director of Miami Design Preservation League and the Art Deco Weekend Festival, has asked residents to attend Wednesday's Miami Beach Commission meeting to voice their opinions about Urban Weekend.

He may not be there, however.

"This is not about me," Sosa said. "I'm not sure if I'm going to go the commission meeting or not. ... Yes, I'm passionate about this but it's not my sole cause."

Original post (10:04 May 30, 2011)

An open letter from activist Herb Sosa, who is president of Unity Coalition, Miami-Dade County's largest Hispanic gay-rights group:

Esteemed Miami Beach Mayor, Commissioners & concerned citizens.

Please view the attached YouTube video (one of many) already posted for the world to see, about Memorial/Urban Weekend 2011 in Miami Beach. http://youtu.be/cjxxGBJmOqQ

It shows our city as nothing short of a warzone - Filthy streets, a drive by shooting, multiple cars crashed in the process, and total chaos on the streets. This is unacceptable and must be controlled before we totally lose our city, tourism & residents. It is not limited to Ocean Drive or Collins - there isn't a residential street in South Beach not affected by tons of garbage, crime to our vehicles, excessive noise 24 hours a day, and simply a lack of respect for our community, citizens & property. THIS is the image the world see of our "American Riviera".

When did perceived political or social correctness override the safety & well-being of a community? This is not a race, economic or ethnic issue, it is an issue of visitors who have a total lack of respect for our community, its property & citizens. I know hotel rooms are filled, but at what price and for how long? How many events, meetings, conventions & vacations have been CANCEELLED because of this nightmare we endure each Memorial Day? Almost everyone who lives her that I know, get out of Miami Beach for Memorial Day - including many of you - because of this unruly & dangerous mob that we seem to invite back every year and turn a blind eye to the irreparable damage they leave behind.

If this was PRIDE weekend, The Boat Show, Fashion Week or Art Deco Weekend - would we allow this to go on each year? I am certain that if the real numbers of cost & crime are compared with like events we host throughout the year - Memorial/Urban Weekend is tenfold the headache, cost & damage of any of them. IS IT ALL WORTH IT FOR OUR CITY MANAGEMENT?

I am not willing to wait another year to see how many more people will be killed; how many more hotel rooms will be trashed; how many more cars & homes will be broken into; how many more residents need to leave in fear of hide in their homes for their safety; how much more police, fire rescue, sanitation & additional security dollars need to be spent to try & keep our city safe & livable for all each Memorial Weekend? - a Hell of a way for Miami Beach to honor our soldiers. Every resident & voter I speak to mentions Memorial/Urban Weekend as one of the top major problems our city has, when considering elections & our leaders - PLEASE TAKE NOTE, make the difficult but correct decision to put an end to Urban Weekend in Miami Beach and help us SAVE OUR CITY. We are not Disney or Universal. We cannot close a gate at night & go home. We ARE home, and inviting & accommodating the world to come and share our paradise - not destroy it and hold us hostage in the process. Unruly and unlawful visitors are NOT WELCOME in Miami Beach.

Respectfully,

Herb Sosa

Miami Beach, Florida

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The writer needs to consider that it's a very rare chance that out of towners are committing these crimes.#1 We can't carry guns on the planes, #2 many hardly know the streets of Miami. Therefore its your own people doing it.

Why stop at race when making sweeping generalizations about culture and violence? Why don't we keep ALL the men out of South Beach?! Look at all the rape, assaults and shootings that happen during WMC and various circuit parties (something the author of this letter conveniently disregards). The common thread between all these criminal acts: men. I move we keep all the men out of South Beach. (Note to all the dudes reading this post: how does it feel to be stereotyped?)

I agree 110%. This event is three-day city sanctioned riot that the taxpayers have to clean up. Locals - Beach residents and others - shouldn't have to leave town or avoid the Beach for fear of their safety as most of us do. "Urban Weekend" is an embarrassment and a public nuisance to Miami residents.

Let's keep the gays off south beah

I was talking with 3 Young German Male Tourists at the Everglades Park and they stated they had or are at South Beach, then some other plans they had for their vacation. I told them that I would not be around South Beach Because of this event, to many people, to much crime !.

I couldnt agree more with this post. This so called urban weekend has become a total disaster and should become completely banned. I realize this has racial implications, but the security of the local citizens and their children has to be made top priority. Urban weekend has a significant economic influence yes, but this can be replaced with a new event.....

@ Tricksie nice try but false equivalence. Mayhem is mayhem, isolated crimes are just that. Stereotyping? Where was there sterotyping in that letter? This is not about race and you know it. Shame on you for even attempting that crap. Residents of MB have a right to not be vandalized, accosted by random strangers, and subjected to blaring music from cars at 3AM. That is not sterotyping that is the reality of what goes on during this weekend on a large scale. I'm all for keeping UBW if the people who come act with more respect. Incidents will always happen with large groups, and there will always be a few bad apples, but this is beyond reason. Too bad individuals such as yourself will only get defensive instead of addressing the reality. Signed - a former community activist from Chicago.

Nothing but a load. What started as a respectable weekend celebration has become nothing but a chance for a bunch of posers to "get their gansta on." The writer is correct; if were any other group, this would never be tolerated. Respect has to be earned, not given.

i hope you edit your letter before you send it to the mayor... lots of typos.

It is a race issue ... What race is the majority of this weekend?? And it's not a stereotype if it's fact!

Miami 1960: 90% non hispanic white
Miami 2011: 90% non white

Who gives Sh*t about profiling sensitivity. We all know the majority RACE that is involved here. That said, there are good people in every race, just that one particular RACE (overall) behaves badly. Just look at the recent videos in fast food restaurants, or the European tourists killed, etc. What can we do about it? Time for some real punishment by the Police. Time to crack heads. If I were there, I'd bring a weapon. Enough of these low life garbage thugs disrespecting society. There will come a point when the abiding law citizen will decide not to take it anymore and will blow there thug heads off! This is more than sad. There has to be ZERO TOLERANCE going forward.

Mona - is it completely out of the realm of possibility that many of these out-of-town visitors drove down here with their weapons? Not everyone flies. Hellloooooo

Gay Rights activist trying to remove other peoples rights? Humm....

Unbelieveable! I love going to Miami and whenever I have guests here in Ft. Lauderdale they want to see South Beach, so we drive down, walk around Lincoln Road, etc., etc. Except for Memorial Day weekend. It's pathetic. The people attending this event apparantly come with the intention of being violent. Screw political correctness and stop this event. Every resident of Miami Beach needs to stand up and say no more!!

The last time I was in Miami/South Beach, my locked car (parked at a controlled lot) was broken into and everything cleaned out even as policemen on bicycles were patrolling the area. When the officers did respond, I was made to feel like a hayseed for thinking that a locked car was any safer than one left wide open. I will never return to this Third World country you lovingly refer to as South Beach again. The residents have surrendered it to the criminals. You deserve everything you get.

Florida Native

Tricksie - It would be a much safer place if all the women were taken to the Bahamas and forced to live there. Keep them out of Miami where things are more organic and active.

MB needs some new advertising slogans:

"If you've got the time, we've got the crime!"
"South Beach is hot. Move fast so you won't get shot!"
"Urban Beach Week's a lot of fun, but please, folks, don't pack your gun!"

It's time for the City Fathers to call an end to Urban Beach Week, lest the violence, mayhem, and now death during this activity begin to define the community and lay waste to the hard work that's made our hometown such a glorious destination.

John. Good points. Sadly, like my post, your post will probably vanish into cyberspace as well. Evidently, the writer is very adept at identifying problems, and censoring opinion.

This is sad that we seem to have lost the ability to talk "common sense" (as Mr. Sosa has) and then be accused of all sorts of besides the point issues, including a few spelling errors in his letter.
Really?!
The MOB that descends on the beach for Urban Weekend,as a mob and its attending mentality, AS A MOB are rude, crude, arrogant, slovenly and drunk. They are obviously dangerous; would you keep inviting that type of guest back into your home every year? Hey, maybe next year they'll burn a hotel down in our own little "Harlem Riviera". Oh, boo hoo...I'm a racist by that comment, right?!

South Beach residents are righteously ticked off and with good reason. South Florida is already a volatile area of the country; there is no need to hold a this said “Urban Weekend”… it's already urban five miles from the beach!!!

I live on Ocean Drive. While the Drive has been closed to vehicles, the noise from behind me on Collins has been deafening as woofers duel for audio supremacy.

The simple fact is that ALL events in South Beach are dirty and noisy. These are commercial endeavors to the detriment of residents.

The solution to this is YEAR ROUND, consistent enforcement, focused on quality of life crimes. Our police knowingly permit many small crimes - littering, noise, D & D. When the cops are less tolerant of these acts, our visitors will behave accordingly.

i said it years ago-the beach at SOUTH BEACH IS A DRIVE-BY THUGGA HAVEN OF WORTHLESS FLESH-THE ART DECO ERA AND DRUG LORDS AND MODELS---ALL GONE! NOW THE RIFF-RAFF WITH AK-47'S AND THEIR PUDGE-QUEENS WITH THE PRISON BARBER POLE TATTS RUNNING UP THEIR NECKS AND DOWN THEIR HAIRY CLEAVAGES STRUT AROUND LIKE PURPOSEFUL TURKEYS. THAT IS WHY THERE IS SHOOTINGS LIKE THE ANIMAL DISPLAY LAST NIGHT. THE CITY SHOULD BAN-YOU KNOW-THAT GROUP OF THUGS AND THE UNATTRACTIVE BEHAVIOR-AND CERTAINLY-A PINCH ON THE WEAPONS PROLIFERATING THE STREET! NATIVE MIAMIANS DON'T CARE TO GO TO A PLACE WHERE THEY FEEL UNSAFE-SEND THIS KIND BACK TO THEIR GHETTO AND FENCE IT IN!

AGREED....

"Hell of a way for Miami Beach to honor our soldiers". Gimme a break. Like Herb Sosa gives a toss about "our soldiers". Does he not realize how over-represented inner-city blacks are in the military?
What Sosa conveniently ignores is the virulent anti-black racism in his own community. Respect is a two-way street.
Still, it's probably best for all concerned that the event is cancelled. It makes the majority of party-goers who simply come to have a good time look bad. It makes the city look bad.

I know the voice on the video is not spanish... it's an arab accent.

I am from South Beach I see enormous amount of out of state tags, Georgia, New York, etc.. South Beach is a wonderful place to live except for Memorial Weekend when we get the barrage from those from out of state which have no respect for our community

Gay Rights? Should be no such thing.

Mona, Man don't act , like you don't see and don't care. let me tell you and be very blunt, We Miami residents , real resident , Not no section 8 , slum dog wannabe millionaires, Hate the Beach even before memorial day. South beach get filled with little chamacks that wanna catch beef. No offense to the good people going out there to have brunch with the Fams and shop , But most "MOST" hate the beach man. Now imagine more low lifes that come here to pound , smoke our trees and wanna get wrowdy! Theres no more rooms for addtl animals. I feel sorry for sure for the residents of The beach. i totally agree to keep this circus out of this City.

I think it is unfair to single MB out. There is a nice website at www.blackbeachweek.com, and you just have to click on the link "Calendar of Events 2011, and then see below the heading "Where Da'Party At?" in order to see the full list of events. Events are in Michigan, Dallas, Hawaii, Nevada, etc...

okay i will say it. blacks.. not racist, just facts. if there is trouble (murders) at this type of event, cancel it. I was in Vegas during the NBA all star event. trouble and fights, shootings, all over town. they don't want the event back, neither does the community.

T! CAN WE JUST COVER THE LITTLE AREA WITH A BIG FUMIGATION TENT, PUSH THE GAS IN, AND SWEP THE CRAP UP IN THE MORNING??! THAT IS ALL THAT IS THERE NOW-PURE HUMAN FLESH CRAP GARBAGE, WITH NO PURPOSE OTHER THEN VIOLENCE, ARROGANCE AND MAYHEM. JUST OUTLAW ALL WEAPONS ON SOUTH BEACH, AND ENFORCE IT AT THE CAUSEWAYS!his is about the status of south beach back in the early 1980's when the drug cartels started infesting the place

This is the "diverse" America you campaigned so hard for... enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Robert.........

Thanx for the acknowledgement. While neither you nor I are perfect, I suspect I can readily assume with confidence that we mutually chose a long time ago to not live a lie, to not live in denial, to not embrace the paucity of truth as too many Americans, by choice, quite possibly forced by "chance" must. The truth is sometimes not a pleasant thing. Nevertheless........

"Gen. Buck Turgeson" didn't live in denial.......... You take care.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuP6KbIsNK4

The demographic that is causing the mayhem, is also the demographic that voted over 90 percent for Obama.

I'm a white female who accepts or rejects other human beings for who they are, not the color of their skin--I don't see people in color---this weekend is not about the color, but the quality of the people who come to this event. I agree with some of the other posts, this event can certainly be easily replaced with a more productive one---like really honoring what the Memorial Day holiday was instituted for.

My wife and I took our brand new car to Miami on a little road trip. No one told me this event was going on. We would have left, but we could not get our deposit back. Unfortunately, the criminal thugs vandalized our car. Dents in the front and back where the Audi insignias are so you know it was purposeful. I will NEVER go back to Miami. Not sure what happpened, but it is a dirty ghetto now. Not at all what I remember as a kid.

Police should show no mercy on criminals no matter who they may be. Pulling out a gun in public should be your own death sentence. Kill enough of these dumbasses and the problem will stop.

I live on South Beach, and have been here all weekend, and seriously, Herb Sosa is exaggerating. On collins, ocean, and washington its crowded, busy, and rowdy, and fifth is a nightmare for driving-just like spring break- but where i live near flamingo park its actually been a lot quieter than normal. meanwhile, my public defender friends who work this weekend dealing with people who've just been arrested tell me the VAST majority of arrests are for minor things; the high arrest rate is a result of the MASSIVE police presence. and by the way, i'm white and queer, and i'm kind of ashamed of sosa's engaging in the racist hysteria about this weekend.

What does it say about a Race, when the word "Urban" strikes fear, anger, & hatred? We are de-evolving as a species!

For people using this even to spew your racism you conveniently forget that the motorcycle bike rallies in Sturgis, SD and Daytona Beach, FL draws an equally violent element in motorcycle gangs who are predominantly white. For those who defend this Urban beach weekend and accuse those opposed of racism I would point to those same rallies and assure you that Miami Beach residents would equally not welcome the motorcycle gangs either.

Out-of-control illegals, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our rights:
They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
Impeach Obama, vote for Ron Paul.
(Last link of Banned Book):
http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000190526

Yes, i agree with you totally. But everyone has been saying the same thing for ten years and nothing ever gets done. What do you propose to DO about it?? If someone comes up with ONE GOOD SOLUTION, I believe all of the residents would back it. We are losing money, our reputation as a safe place to visit, and any serenity in our HOMES. Could someone just come up with ONE GOOD PLAN to make this go away????

The shame and stigma involved in calling out a specific racial group for THE REALITY of how they behave and the crime and mayhem they create has to be brought back. The RACE BAITING has kept the truth from being spoken and allowed the situation to become out of control. For now, blacks and hispanics need to get their act together or be considered degenerates.

I thought we were in a recession and unemployment was high? Where are these thugs getting the money to travel and suck down Heineken on South Beach. Redistribution of wealth must mean blowing welfare checks on trips to Miami beach. I guess this is change and hope we can believe in.

oh, and writing to the mayor, commissioners, etc is ridiculous. They are already convinced. They just don't know what to do about it.

Lets get real because there is no side stepping the obvious. It's not racism, it's the obvious. It's not profiling, it's minimally observing. Here in Sacramento there are 78 individuals on the most wanted list. Thirty seven of that 78 are black males. Sacramento's black population is 6.6%. Assuming they didn't count children, 3.3% are black males, and there you have it; 3.3% of the population commit 47% of the crimes. Am I a racist for citing statistics that are a matter of public record? Of course, because the racist mantra is ingrained in the liberal narrative and must be sustained at all politcal costs. Here's my favorite question to the liberal; why has the black population of San Francisco dropped from 16% when S.F. was a conservative city to 6% today.

The "stereotypes" always seem to have about 99% truth in them, don't they? If the truth and common sense make me a racist, well, there are worse things than being a racist.

Another Cuban racist, this time dressed in drag.... How refreshing.

You can rest assured they are muslims, just like France.

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