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J.J. Colagrande Headshot

Are You Racist If You Flee South Beach Memorial Day Weekend?

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MIAMI MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
Aaron Davidson via Getty Images

Let's be real.

You hear the chatter in your workplace, social media, on comment threads, in subtext and innuendo. If you've lived in Miami for awhile, you've heard it for years: stay off of South Beach during Memorial Day Weekend. You've heard it from residents who flee to The Keys or up north. From Homestead to Aventura, through Brickell and out to Kendall, it's a common chorus: stay away from South Beach.

Why exactly? Is it the traffic, overpriced drinks, congestion, extra police, DUI checkpoints, lane closures, crowds, and the possible threat of violence and unruliness? Or is it because of the mostly black crowd that Urban Beach Week attracts?

Urban Beach Week is a hip-hop festival held in South Beach for almost 15 years. It attracts over 250,000 visitors during a five-day period, similar numbers to Art Basel and Winter Music Conference, but unlike the European art snobs of Basel, or the hyper-energetic EDM heads at Ultra, Urban Beach Week attracts a crowd that seems to rattle this city like no other event we host. Is this fair? Are these not hard-working people who come to Miami to spend their hard-working money on our fun-in-the sun and vibrant nightlife. Yet how do we react? Like its Armageddon.

This year, mega-clubs on the beach closed for the weekend. Entryways onto the beach, like the Venetian Causeway, have once again been mandated for locals only. The city of Miami hire extra police and they're on alert like its DEFCON ONE.

Is this for our protection or is it driven by something else?

Saturday night we were at a Heat game and our neighbors were down from Rochester, New York, for a long overdue holiday. They work at a warehouse, driving fork-lifts 50 hours a week. They were as nice as anyone we've had the pleasure of sitting next to at a game. Our downtown hotel/condo is filled to capacity with people in town for Urban Beach Week and it's simply refreshing to see a different culture in our elevators and pool. Listen. Has there been violence in the past? No question.

There are rotten apples in every bushel.

Have the cops sometimes overreacted? You think.

Remember 2011 when police fired 116 bullets at a motorist on Washington Avenue, killing the driver and injuring innocent by-standers? Incidents like this amplify the "violent" rhetoric and then spin the news cycle for years to come. The headlines now revolve around arrests, crime and fear mongering. Is there a racial undertone to this?

Who's to say what's in people's hearts, but what do you think?