Miami Calm Day After Verdict, Police Remain On Alert With AM-Miami-Riot Lessons, Bjt
MIAMI (AP) _ A drizzly rain and persistent police patrols kept Miami’s simmering streets calm Saturday as inner-city residents came to grips with the acquittal of a policeman who killed two blacks.
″Rain definitely helps,″ said Miami police spokesman Ray Lang, ″but it’s the strong police presence that’s making the real difference.″
More than 1,000 officers stayed on 12-hour shifts and some 200 National Guard troops were on standby in an armory, a day after an Orlando jury acquitted suspended Miami police officer William Lozano in the 1989 shooting that killed a speeding motorcyclist and led to his passenger’s death.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he’ll press for a federal civil rights investigation of Lozano. Miami’s U.S. attorney, Roberto Martinez, said Friday that his office is reviewing the case. But legal experts said Saturday that federal charges are unlikely.
A similar federal investigation led to charges against four white policemen after their 1992 acquittal by a state jury in the taped beating of Rodney King caused Los Angeles to erupt into riots.
″While I’m glad black people have enough maturity and dignity not to riot, I’m also glad black people have enough self-respect to demand justice,″ Jackson said in Atlanta.
Three days of rioting erupted after the shooting four years ago, but after Friday’s verdict there was only sporadic violence, mainly rock-and-bottle throwing, random gunfire and scattered looting. Police armed with tear gas and riot shields sealed off the inner city and made at least 62 arrests.
In the most serious incidents, a mob tried to burn a police substation and two white men were injured as they traveled through black neighborhoods - one was beaten and the second’s jaw was broken by a rock that smashed through his windshield.
By early Saturday, the barricades that had closed off predominantly black Overtown and Liberty City were lifted and streets were reported quiet. The calm on the city’s streets extended into the evening.
″So far this evening, it’s been very quiet. We don’t anticipate any problems,″ said Miami police spokesman Angelo Bitsis. ″Last night was an emotional night for a lot of people, and tonight is the letdown.″
Police credited clergymen and community leaders with helping to quell racial violence that has hit Miami black areas four times in the past decade.
″This is what we’ve been working toward all along - the community didn’t let us down,″ said the Rev. Freeman Wyche, who manned a rumor control hot line in Liberty City. ″We can accept the verdict, even though we don’t agree with it.″
Dwight Farrington, a 50-year-old unemployed truck driver from Overtown, said streets were relatively calm because his neighborhood has had four years to come to the realization nothing would happen to a white policeman who killed blacks.
″Nothing’s changed,″ he said. ″We have to live with it. If we show our anger and pick up a brick, we know we’ll be killed, too.″
Overtown resident Sterling Cook, 30, credited a ″more mature attitude″ in the black community and the police show of force.
″They’re hip to the game now,″ he said, but warned: ″There will always be riots in Miami. As long as police keep killing black boys, there’s going to be riots.″