Update (9:41 p.m. June 1, 2011)
- 'Community rally' planned for 6 p.m. Friday at Miami Beach City Hall to protest Urban Weekend
- Miami Beach politicians say little about Urban Weekend; Police: slain man, 22, was from Palm Beach County
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.
Miami Beach, Florida