The frustration among some in Miami Beach over coronavirus-related emergency measures appears to have spilled from social media into real-life interactions between residents and the city staff attempting to enforce the new laws.
In shutting down South Pointe Park on Monday because many people didn’t comply with face-mask requirements, City Manager Jimmy Morales said park rangers had reported “rudeness” from parkgoers.
The city’s Code Compliance department released a video on Tuesday of an expletive-filled exchange Sunday outside a Publix in South Beach between a code officer and a prospective shopper who shouted his disapproval of another rule requiring customers wear masks inside grocery stores.
In the video, the man can be heard calling the coronavirus a “false flag, fake pandemic” and saying he had “the right to buy groceries” without following the city’s rules.
“There is no pandemic,” the man yells, with countless vulgarities interspersed throughout his rant. “You’re terrorists. You’re in violation of my Constitutional and civil rights.”
Morales shared the video with the City Commission and mayor on Tuesday “as an example of what employees occasionally face out there from folks who have no desire to socially distance or wear masks,” he wrote in an email.
“Four-letter words, heated comments and city staff being mocked were common this past week in South Pointe Park,” he said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “While the Publix incident was one of the most adverse encounters with a member from our Code staff, several Park Rangers have recounted many less than cordial exchanges when asking members of the public to wear a face covering at a public park or adhere to social distancing.”
Park rangers were yelled at and mocked by some parkgoers over the weekend, the city said. Some members of the public said they would break down caution tape and signs, and “stay in the park after closing time in protest.”
“I love it when a lay person gives medical advice,” one person said.
A Cuban park ranger was told to “go back to your communist country.”
“It is sad how some people choose to engage in hate and anger at a time like this rather than being a part of the solution to stop this deadly virus,” Morales said.
Hernan Cardeno, the director of Code Compliance, said his staff’s inspections “aren’t always welcomed.”
“But we are doing this for the greater good,” he said in a statement to the Herald. “I’m proud to lead a team of Code Compliance professionals who are on the frontlines every day in our community simply trying to ensure the public complies with the safety measures in place during this global pandemic.”
After more than six weeks of lockdown, Miami-Dade County reopened parks, golf courses and marinas on Wednesday. Beaches and “non-essential” businesses — like hotels, retail stores, restaurants — remained closed or open only to delivery or pick-up orders.
A few dozen people protested on Sunday outside Freedom Tower, calling for the reopening of Miami-Dade County. A flier advertising a Miami Beach protest Sunday afternoon at Lummus Park began to circulate on social media Wednesday.
“Re-open our schools, beaches, parks, businesses & community,” the flier reads. “Rebuild our economy!”
©2020 Miami Herald
Visit Miami Herald at www.miamiherald.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.