Miami Gardens Police Chief Resigns Amid Convenient Store Scandal

Miami Gardens’s first and only police Chief, Matthew Boyd, unexpectedly resigned on December 10, 2013, one day after the NAACP called on United States Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to conduct a review of the  Miami Gardens Police Department which Boyd resided over. While spokespeople for the Department as well as Mayor Oliver Gilbert insist that any correlation between Boyd’s resignation and the NAACP’s letter to Holder is purely coincidental, the timing is certainly noteworthy. Chief Officer Boyd was expected to announce his plans for retirement late in the month of January, 2014 – a month after he resigned.

Chief Matthew Boyd Miami Gardens

His early resignation comes after four years of allegations of racial profiling and targeting of the African American community in Miami Gardens finally made national headlines. The President of the NAACP Florida State Conference, Adora Obi Nweze, called the resignation “a good first step”, but cautioned that “the systematic allegations of police intimidation did not happen because of just one person; they were the result of a sustained lack of oversight.” In the original letter, dated December 9, 2013, Nweze wrote:

“Mayor Oliver Gilbert contends that the allegations of police misconduct made by [Alex] Saleh are untrue and that Mr. Saleh refused to provide information for the city to investigate. However, public records support Mr. Saleh’s contention that he did provide videos to the internal affairs commander, Gary Smith, in compliance with the state attorney’s subpoena for the videos last year.

…As it happens, 76% of the population and most of its senior public officials are African Americans, but that does not excuse the Police Department’s administration of a pattern of grave misconduct. Police harassment is unlawful and morally wrong irrespective of the race of those who are ultimately responsible and accountable. Public officials of other jurisdictions surely are watching Miami Gardens, knowing that if police harassment of African Americans is acceptable in Miami Gardens, it is acceptable everywhere.”

These last lines are undoubtedly in response to observers who like to think that because the Chief of Police himself is of African descent, ultimately it means racial profiling could not have occurred. One such critic left several comments on an earlier post about Miami Gardens, taking me to task for “assuming it’s racial when the main defendants in the civil rights case, the current and former mayor, the Police Chief, and the Deputy Police Chief are all Black.” Of course, this commenter conveniently ignores the fact that “records obtained by The Herald show that nearly all the commanders – and most of the officers in the squads – are white and Hispanic. The city’s population is about 80 percent black. The police force is 30 percent black.” No matter. The fact that there were some Black officers involved is apparently supposed to legitimize racial profiling and make it appear, as the commenter suggests, that “whites are largely irrelevant in this situation.”

It may come as a surprise to some, but this false logic isn’t at all anything new to the 21st or even the 20th century. It has been in use by whites since at least as early as 1894, the year six prominent African American men were lynched in Kerrville, Tennessee. The six men were arrested after they were accused, despite no evidence to support this contention, of setting fire to a barn owned by a white man. (One of the men, Dan Hawkins, could not possibly have been responsible for burning the barn. At the time of the burning, he was in jail after being falsely accused of causing a different fire!) The police Officer who made the six arrests was a Black Officer “notorious as having made a living off trumped-up charges” against prominent Black men in the local Community. [Giddings, Paula. (2008). IDA: SWORD AMONG LIONS. Pages 322-327]  The Officer must have known, however, that he was in fact sending them all to their deaths. He loaded the six men, all handcuffed, onto “an old uncovered wagon”, and “a route was chosen that took them through an isolated area” where a white mob was awaiting their arrival. When the mob saw the captives they pulled them off the train and committed the most barbaric and unspeakable atrocities against them.

Shortly after the Kerrville lynchings, it was announced that the newly-formed British Chapter of the Anti-Lynching Committee would be traveling to the United States to look into these matters. All of the sudden Southern white Official were bending over backwards and offering “explanations” as to why they weren’t able to prevent the lynchings in their states or manage to bring any of the numerous lynchers to justice. In response, Arkansas Governor William Meade Fishback attempted to justify and defend the U.S. South’s inexcusable record of lynching by pointing to the fact that the Police Officer who made the arrests in the Kerrville Case was himself a “Negro Officer”. Furthermore, he claimed that in some instances of lynching there were several Black faces among those in the crowd (although this seems rather doubtful).

Whether true or not, none of the above changes the fact that the criminal “justice” system here in the United States is one that is profoundly influenced by a false belief in white supremacy, the race of any one police officer or prison guard notwithstanding. They are all agents of a system which is designed mainly to prey on and marginalize the lives of Black and Brown people. It is this practice which continues to feed and sustain America’s ever-growing Prison Industrial Complex.

24 thoughts

  1. What some people fail to realize is that black people do oppress other black people sometimes, symptom of colonized minds which remain so, unfortunately. It’s something that alot of people (present day have a problem understanding). If we were in the 50s or 40s, people would understand it more readily.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I try my best to usually keep my criticism in this area at a minimal because it’s not necessarily my place to make this argument, but white ppl especially will use this as an excuse to say racism doesn’t exist if a cop is Black or a Mayor or even a President or a Supreme Court Justice. This of course isn’t to minimalize their success or deny that they have made great personal achievements. It’s just that when you look at say the voting record of Justice Clarence Thomas, it’s easy to see why Southern segregationists who opposed Justice Thurgood Marshall on the Court are mysteriously silent when it comes to Thomas.

          1. Yeah. Procrastinating. But about to log off and finish reading a colleague’s screenplay, launch into one I’m cleaning up, preparing outline-bios-directives for writing partner. This is that moment where I’m trying to relax before the work. Then I gotta go work out later too loll.

            What about you? What’s up? Are you on your phone…at work? Lol. Or at home, relaxing?

              1. Well enjoy it, get yourself a celebratory lunch! Lol.

                Yes, busy day coming up – why I’m doing such a great job at slacking. Lol.

                Have a good one Caleb! xo

    1. As long as this mindset is allowed to reproduce, we’ll never be done with racism. Parents must be more and more thoughtful of others before they can expect their children to.

      1. My first two children, ages five and six, never heard the “N” word till we moved to North Carolina. People used it every day and I taught my kids it was wrong. All I could do was teach what was right and wrong.

          1. I’m in Jersey now and while it’s not perfect it’s a darn sight better than NC. That’s sad to me since I grew up there. I do feel for you. 😦

      2. Good point. I don’t buy the whole, “with each generation racism is lessened and it eventually fade out” either. The seeds of racism may have taken a couple hundred years to grow into what we know, but I think only a true revolution will eradicate it.

  2. This reminds me of the lawsuit against the Rockford, IL school district, in which a federal magistrate judge said they had turned discrimination into an “art form.” Some retorted, “But the mayor is Black,” while some others said, “Window dressing.”

        1. Wow. I had never heard of this case before. Thank you so much for sharing. It makes you wonder how many similar cases are kept kind of at a local news level that we don’t hear about.

          Like the article says, “Lawyers for the parents and students who filed the suit said they suspect similar discrimination is practiced in medium-sized school districts around the country.” I think this is still largely the case.

          1. Thank you so much for sharing. It makes you wonder how many similar cases are kept kind of at a local news level that we don’t hear about.

            During and even after that lawsuit, Rockford was known for having the lowest reading and math scores in the State of Illinois. It just goes to prove that an injustice to anyone is an injustice to everyone.

            Rockford is able to do things unnoticed because it has only one daily newspaper. Their online version requires registration so unless people want a paid online registration, or live locally and subscribe to the newspaper, they are kept in the dark.

            Do these things go on in small towns across America? If I were a betting person, I would bet that they do.

              1. Caleb, Rockford used to rank second for the largest populated city in Illinois. I think it’s third or fourth now with a population around 150,000. The minority population is 20 percent. It’s actually a small town and if anyone is truly from an urban area, they will see Rockford as rural.

                School discrimination was noticed, but people had to organize and retain attorneys outside of Rockford before they could do anything about it. Then the natives complain that outsiders are causing trouble. (sigh) I suspect the same goes on in other small towns across America.

              2. Oh wow. I didn’t know how small it was. Sounds like they really have a lock on making sure their news doesn’t get out! Thanks for so much useful information Xena, as always.

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