Peter Tapia, left, shakes hands with speaker Walker Burttschell during the City Hall rally on Friday. Photo by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff.
By DAVID SMILEY, dsmiley@MiamiHerald.com
When Peter Tapia took to Facebook to protest the rowdy parties that descend on South Beach every Memorial Day weekend and organized an anti-Urban Beach Week rally at city hall, his goal was to end the city’s annual but unofficial hip-hop street festival.
So far, the only thing Tapia’s activism has ended is his job.
Tapia, 23, says he was fired from his position as a Shore Club concierge Thursday after his bosses learned he was pushing to end Urban Beach Week, a rowdy and controversial hip-hop street party that was marred this year by two police-involved shootings in which an alleged gunman was killed and four bystanders were shot.
“I became unemployed because of all the attention I got,” Tapia said. “My employer decided it was a breach of contract.”
Tim Nardi, general manager of the Shore Club, said hotel policy would not allow him to discuss Tapia’s employment.
“I can’t confirm or deny his employee status,” Nardi said. “But any issue related to Peter did not have anything to do with this weekend.”
Nardi is also chairman of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association.
Leading up to Memorial Day weekend, Nardi said Urban Beach Week is a historically positive event for Miami Beach’s hotels, which are typically packed with guests during the weekend. Nardi said Monday that he isn’t advocating for or against Urban Beach Week in the midst of controversy, but said the city’s hotels “welcome everybody to South Beach.”
Tapia said he had been previously warned by the Shore Club not to have involvement with the media and signed some kind of agreement. He also mentioned on Facebook that he was a Shore Club concierge, which he said his bosses didn’t appreciate.
“That’s something I shouldn’t have done,” he said.
Though Tapia was fired Thursday, he went ahead with a Friday rally that drew roughly 150 people. He said he will continue to push to end Urban Beach Week while looking for employment.
“Even though I lost my job I will still continue to fight for the community,” Tapia said. “I’m still active in this. We’re still organizing.”