Brian Dennis

From Jan. 4 to Jan. 19, there have been four shootings, resulting in three deaths within a one mile radius in the Model City area commonly known as Liberty City. Two babies were shot and killed, a 16 year old named Terrence Stevenson. He was gunned down on Northwest 18th Avenue and 64th Street on Jan. 4th. Then on Jan. 17th, 15 year old Master Knowlton Johnson was shot and killed on Northwest 20th Avenue and 64th Street. Both of these shootings took place in unincorporated Miami-Dade County’s District 3. Then on Jan. 19th there were two shootings within the city of Miami on Northwest 15th Avenue and 71st Street, with one person wounded and a father of two children killed. These shootings occurred within city of Miami District 5, which also is Miami-Dade County District 3.

What is so harsh and abnormal about these shootings is that it has become as common as hearing your cell phone ring. It's sad when gunshots, bullet casings and dead bodies have become so normal that the commissioners that represent these districts don’t even bother to comment anymore. These shootings are the normalcy of the district. Have either of the commissioners delivered condolences to the families. Have the issued reassurance to those living in that troubled zone? Yet they rode west along Northwest 54th Street during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on their floats and private cars waving their hands at the throng of spectators, throwing candy and T-shirts, and passing out campaign literature as if nothing had ever happened in their districts.

If gang violence and the killing of young teenagers who are babies in the eyes of their parents were happening in Biscayne Gardens, El Portal, Miami Shores or the Upper East Side at an alarming rate such as it is happening in Liberty City, do you really think that our elected officials would govern those areas the same way that they're governing Liberty City? I think not. The residents of those cities and those homeowners’ associations of those areas would be up in arms.  What we call "gang violence" they would be calling an "epidemic." And with special taxing districts in place for those areas, the residents would enjoy increased police circulations just as sure as the sun rises and sets every day.

For the first time, I actually saw a billboard truck in the MLK parade with a photo of slain 15-year-old baby, with a caption that read "I got shot" on top of his picture. The billboard was asking the public for information to help solve his murder – at what was supposed to be a birthday party and a festive parade.  But that truck was far behind the elected officials and candidates who were busy waving and posing. Far behind the popularity that assigned it a spot near the middle of the parade. And that's why our suffering continues.

Because if any person, organization or cause should have been the Grand Marshal at that parade, it should have been that moving billboard. And that billboard should not have had to travel with just one or two advocates out front. Because when we examine the "State of Black Miami" again, it becomes painfully obvious that the state of Black Miami was a sobering billboard truck that flashed the picture of a slain baby, not the wide-smiling lawmakers on sailboats and firetrucks. Every political participant of that parade should have been walking alongside that truck. The point of it all.

So while our "brilliant" model city commissioners (city and county alike) figure out ways to pass one political seat to another, it looks like the public will be left holding the bag again ...and the bill. This time, may just be the end of Liberty City as we know it.  Celebrate that.

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