Learn more about Peltz-Steele v. UMass Faculty Federation at Court Listener (complaint) and the Liberty Justice Center. The case is now on appeal in the First Circuit as no. 22-1466 (PACER paywall). Please direct media inquiries to Kristen Williamson.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Miami Beach looks like a police state; Ocean Avenue shootings happened anyway

In March, I visited Miami Beach and found it to have the feel of a police state.

Uvalde and the shortly subsequent widely reported shootings happened while I was away from the United States, which was something of a mercy. I didn't have to live through the immediate trauma of it all happening again. But thinking about what happened and what could or should be done, including John Oliver's apt skepticism of the perennial calls to harden school security, caused me to remember my experience in March.

I've always liked Miami Beach. The art deco aesthetic combines with Latin-flavored food, drink, and entertainment and incomparable people watching to provide a unique and memorable experience every time. I had not been there, though, in many years, and I was anxious to see how it emerged from the pandemic.

I had a good time revisiting old haunts, but I found the nighttime police presence downright oppressive. Countless cop cars sat with their blue and red lights illuminated all along Ocean Drive and in Lummus Park. Bright spotlights made artificial daylight in the park and on the beach inside the dunes; paths to the ocean were closed. Surveillance cameras were everywhere, perched upon lamppost after lamppost. It was a police state on steroids. (All photos RJ Peltz-Steele CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.)



I could not imagine what had happened that precipitated such security, and I was inclined to be critical. Then, shortly after I returned home and despite what I'd witnessed, news broke of five separate shootings during the main week of spring break. Authorities declared a state of emergency and imposed a midnight curfew to quell further violence, NPR reported.

I have no great insights as to what is going on at Miami Beach. I can only say that one of my favorite places, a vacation destination in the United States, looks more like a police state than actual police states I've visited abroad. And that didn't avert five shootings.

I don't have the answers, but making more places look like what Miami Beach has become doesn't seem to be one.

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