Miami Takes Stock as Race Violence Ebbs
MIAMI (AP) _ Violence in black neighborhoods ebbed Thursday as officials estimated riot damage to buildings at less than $1 million and the community began examining the underlying causes of the uprising.
The rage touched off by a Hispanic police officer’s shooting of an unarmed black motorcyclist Monday left one man dead, seven others shot and some 370 people jailed - most of them suspected looters under 18, police said.
Police continued to control access to the largely black Overtown area Thursday, but inside the neighborhood, businesses lifted their shutters, children attended school and youths played pick-up basketball.
Only eight arrests had been made by late Thursday night, and police said the Overtown and Liberty City neighborhoods were ″very calm.″
A police barrier remained between Overtown and the nearby Miami Arena, where 100 officers - 60 more than usual - provided security for the Miami Heat basketball game against the Chicago Bulls. Tuesday night’s game against Phoenix had been canceled because of the violence.
Thursday night’s game went off without a hitch - the Bulls won 112-108 - and all but about 1,500 of the Arena’s 15,000 seats were filled.
″We’re grateful that the focus has returned to the Super Bowl,″ scheduled for Sunday, said Lang, adding that police were prepared to return in force if trouble began again.
Damage in the Overtown and Liberty City areas was less than officials first feared, said Fire Department spokeswoman Christy LeMay.
Thirteen buildings were torched, but seven of those were abandoned, and the damage to the structures was less than $1 million. Ten to 15 cars also were burned, she said. Damage totals did not include the contents of stores and businesses.
Sam Bahhur, whose Palestinian family operated seven small food markets in Overtown and Liberty City, said six of the stores were damaged. He estimated the family’s losses in inventory and store fixtures, along with structural damage, at $3 million. The family will rebuild if it can find the money, he said.
Rioting in Liberty City in 1980 that left 18 people dead caused an estimated $100 million damage.
The physical damage will be easier to repair than the damage done to race relations, many blacks say.
″Fear is what we all have in common now,″ said Overtown resident Stephen Wayne.
Allen Blanchard, 24, one of the two black men killed in the Monday night incident that set off the rioting, was to be buried Saturday.
His family urged calm, and on Thursday their attorney, Mark Rubin, rejected the involvment of a controversial New York activist, the Rev. Al Sharpton, saying the funeral would be closed if he tried to attend as promised.
″The only motivation he has to show up is to try to incite violence,″ Rubin said.
Many of the businesses that were looted, burned or vandalized during the unrest in Liberty City were singled out for destruction, some community leaders said.
″Everything was planned and targeted: protect black businesses and get the white man, the Hispanic and the Arab out of our community,″ said Georgia Ayers, a black activist who condemned the violence.
Just feet from a gutted Cuban-owned meat market, a black-owned open-air market sold turnips and tangerines. Next to a white-owned furniture store that had been stripped, a black beauty supply store was open for business as usual.
Marvin Dunn, a psychologist and black activist, said economics underlie the frustrations that led to the rioting.
″I don’t see this as white against blacks, blacks against whites,″ Dunn said. ″What is happening is that a larger and larger segment of the black community is falling farther and farther behind the rest of us in income and in the quality of life.″
All agreed that young people who feel they face a limited future were particularly angered. Police said 325 of the 370 arrests during the rioting involved people under 18.
One device aimed at smoothing over race relations was the city’s creation of an 11-member panel of blacks and police officers to investigate the death of Clement Lloyd, 23, whose slaying by Officer Willian Lozano triggered the violence. Blanchard was a passenger on Lloyd’s motorcyle; he died of injuries suffered in the resulting crash.
Miami police, the state attorney’s office and the FBI are also investigating the death.
Lozano’s attorney, Roy Black, has said Lloyd was driving toward his client on a powerful motorcycle and that the officer shot in self-defense.