MIAMI POLICE SPYING ON RAPPERS-Andrew Stelzer

03/23/04

Two weeks ago, Miami Beach assistant Police Chief, and several officers told the Miami herald that the Miami police routinely photograph rap musicians, follow them to concerts and parties, and have a binder of files on them. The Miami police chief has denied those charges, but the Herald stands by its story. Meanwhile, lawsuits are being threatened, against the Miami police, and the New York City police department, who trained Miami’s cops on how to survail hip hop artists.

Henry Crespo works with the Miami Beach Black Host committee, the committee is concerned that the profiling of rappers is a policy based on race.

ACT “when the story broke out, it’s was all black guys…you don’t indict a whole industry, just like you don’t indict the whole police force.�

Local intelligence gathering on rap artists started after the Memorial Day 2001 weekend, when some 250,000 hip-hop fans flocked to South Beach for four days of parties hosted by their favorite rappers. Beach police made 211 arrests, double the usual number of a regular weekend, most for disorderly conduct and intoxication. But the police felt they were not prepared, so they sent several detectives to New York City for a 3 day “hip hop� seminar, where officers from around the country came to receive information and training on how to keep track of rap artists. The detectives were given binders with files on rappers who had an arrest record.

In response to the reports in the herald, The Miami Beach Black Host committee has met with the mayor and the chief of police, who denied the charges of racial profiling. But Crespo says he trusts that answer, but is concerned that the story itself may damage the reputation of Miami as a place that welcomes black tourists.

ACT “black tourism accounts for $$$ million…we were gonna get to the bottom of this�

The committee also received promises that police harassment of black and Latino people on Miami Beach will stop.

ACT ‘We talked to the police chief…no more riot gear.�

Terry Toble is president of the Miami chapter of the ACLU

ACT “There has been a significant concern over the years about the police…�

The ACLU is has said if another party chose to file a lawsuit against the city, they would support the effort.

ACT ’You cant profile a whole industry or race because of a few people�

A lawsuit seems more likely in New York City, where the Miami police were sent for training. The hip-hop summit action network has stated they intend to file a suit against the New York police department. A representative for the summit action network points out that the police are not keeping binders of files on rock musicians, who are mostly white.

Police point out that there are rivalries between groups of rappers, which sometimes end in death, and sometimes there are hits out on certain rap celebrities. Crespo, from the Miami beach Black Host Committee, says that while its true there are some rap artists with criminal records, the police need to learn more about hip-hop culture, and not just from a criminal standpoint.

ACT “these cops need to understand…its easy to profile, but then its about taking pictures of them getting of planes.�

The Miami beach Black host committee is planning a gang summit this may, to include both police officers and young people of color in the Miami community. The issue will be discussed at this summit.

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