The highly-touted Operation Summer Heat, a crackdown on gun violence by Miami-Dade police, apparently didn’t register with the drive-by shooters. It’s naive to think that it would.
There were more shootings over the weekend, mirroring those of Memorial Day weekend. Sadly, more people died. Guests leaving a graduation party in southwest Miami-Dade were sprayed with gunfire from shooters with automatic weapons. One person was shot and killed, two others died when their car crashed while fleeing the shooting. Police have arrested three teenagers in connection with the Kendall shooting.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava had to explain on CNN on Monday that the county is addressing the shootings garnering national attention. Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez told reporters the latest weekend shooting was a setback to Operation Summer Heat. But, he said, “We can’t let up.”
He’s right, but what’s next?
As we prepare for Miami-Dade public schools to let out for the summer on Wednesday, the commission meets on Tuesday to vote on the mayor’s Peace and Prosperity Plan, a long-term comprehensive community action plan to address poverty, quality of life and diversion for teens.
Levine Cava wants the commission to see her plan as a quick solution, but many of the programs it includes are unfunded. The plan is for a better future, not a better today, some commissioners have said. They are right. The plan doesn’t fully address the issue of bullets flying now.
Still, the commission should approve the Peace and Prosperity Plan, but after they do, they need to drill down to develop a spectrum of approaches to curbing this rash of violence now.
Fortunately, the commission has a $10 million windfall from the Miami Arena naming-rights deal, money that can go to districts affected by the violence and to purchase crime-fighting tools like license tag readers now.
“We must first end the war,” said a passionate Commissioner Kionne McGhee, charged with leading the commission’s response to the crisis.
In other words, we must first get young shooters to put down their automatic weapons. For that to happen, the bureaucrats are going to have to listen to the people on the ground, working with young people every day.
The mayor’s plan is getting pushback from a coalition of grassroots organizations that work with youths. They want the county to fund their initiatives, said members of the Circle of Brotherhood, Dream Defenders and Touching Miami with Love. They criticized aspects of the mayor’s plan, which views summer jobs and programs as the solution. Summer jobs are essential, but it, too, would be naive to think they are the definitive answer to stopping violence.
“These programs are not going to target youth that are pulling out AK-47s and spraying down parties and banquet halls,” Tina Harris, vice president of Touching Miami With Love told the Miami Herald. The coalition makes a solid case for being included as a partner in the solution equation.
Here’s another a word of caution: We know well what a law-enforcement crackdown can mean for Black residents and communities of color — overkill.
To his credit, Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo added the word “constitutionally” when he launched his plan to end gun violence in the city last month. All departments must keep that in mind as they work to end the violence.