On Friday night, some time after midnight, my one black friend on the beach texted me. “You need to be out here taking pics dude.” He was working as a bouncer at a bar on the beach. It was late, I was tired, so I told him I’d come out the next night.
Saturday night, I met up with him and he relayed to me how every Memorial Day Weekend, the bar calls him up and asks him to work. We laughed. The scene was good, just as my friend had described. And tame.
Tame was something I noticed all weekend long. And I wasn’t alone. Everyone I spoke to on the beach about the weekend noticed the difference this year from years prior. I don’t know what caused the difference but I suspect it was a wide variety of measures that the city took. They need to be commended for it, in my opinion. The traffic stops entering the beach must have surely been a deterrent. Especially when, on day one of the festivities, the arrest of a basketball celebrity during a stop made national news.
What the city did (and very effectively, I might add) was keep the presence of the thug element minimized and in check. I worked during the weekend and so I saw the streets. It was an entirely different scene this year. It was positive. It was people having fun. The way it should have been.
Some I’ve talked to have said that the police presence was overkill. And it was, to a degree. Police were everywhere. I was woken up more than once in the middle of the night by helicopters which continually circled overhead during the night. But look at what they’re coming off of the year prior. A weekend where a national scandal ensued and a near race riot almost took place. The city may have been overly cautious. But good for them. The city kept the weekend. Residents kept the weekend. And tourists kept the weekend. The message the city conveyed, in my opinion, was simple and clear: we don’t want criminals. It seemed to have worked.
No, it wasn’t an ideal weekend, but it was a step in the right direction. But we have just one shot every year to make it better. This year, the city moved us forward.
I’ll add more photos to this set as I finish them.
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