Miami Beach Air Show Would Hurt Urban Beach Goers: Attorney

Memorial Day weekend 2017 is going to have a much different look in Miami Beach with plans for a full scale airshow, but critics charge it's a way to keep the hip-hop crowd from coming back.

The Miami Beach Commissioner spearheading the move that will bring in the big time airshow next year, Michael Grieco, said it has nothing to do with race and it's good for visitors and residents of all backgrounds and businesses too.

John De Leon, a civil rights attorney and past president of the Miami ACLU, disagrees.

"This is a pretty shocking example of the city taking steps to prevent black people from coming to Miami Beach," De Leon said. "This is a total affront to their ability to be able to come back next year."

De Leon says the airplanes are a conscious move to take hotel rooms away from Urban Beach goers.

"Clearly the City of Miami Beach is not doing it only to prevent these people from going over to the beach but from actually staying in hotels on the beach," he said. "It hearkens back to the era of Jim Crow. These sorts of things were done in previous decades a long time ago...I think it's a very sad thing that's happening here on Miami Beach."

Grieco, one of the architects of the airshow, denied those allegations.

"That's kind of baiting people into an argument that doesn't exist," he said. "I didn't realize that watching planes and looking at military ships was some sort of race specific thing."

For years many Miami Beach residents have yearned for an alternative to the Urban theme. The commissioner said it's a show that's for everyone.

"I have probably spoken to about 50 to 100 African Americans that would love to see an airshow. I spent a lot of Saturday night talking about programming of the weekend and they are looking forward to it. So by saying something like that it's ridiculous," Grieco said.

Grieco says the city will reach out to the first openly-gay Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning, and to the famed WWII black fighter pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen, to participate.

"I think the airshow is a great opportunity, a great way for the people of South Florida to get out and see and learn about the capability of our military aircraft," said Air Force Reserve Capt. Joe Withers.

De Leon says he would like to see a way where both Urban Beach Weekend and the big airshow could take place all together at the same time but there just isn't an unlimited amount of hotel space. The city has an airshow promoter out gathering up the acts that will fly by next year.

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