As Miami Police Shootings Hit National News, More Lasting Memorial Painted in Overtown

Categories: News
mcneilmural1.jpg
photo by Tim Elfrink
Mark March 22 as the moment the world started paying attention to Miami's embattled police department. That's when an ex-Miami Herald reporter named Don Van Natta Jr. parachuted in to write a New York Times piece telling millions of readers what everyone in black Miami knows too well: Miami PD has a shooting problem.

But a far less noticed -- and surely far more permanent -- testament to the strife in urban Miami was unveiled hours before Van Natta's piece hit the World Wide Web.

It's painted on the wall of a gritty market on a side street in Overtown: a huge mural dedicated to the seven men killed by police since last summer. The victims' names frame a huge portrait of a grinning Travis McNeil, the most recent suspect to die by police bullets, and the words one love over his shoulders.

As Van Natta's story exploded,  cable news and NPR called for interviews with women such as Sheila McNeil, Travis' mom. The national spotlight peaked last Thursday evening, when TV cameras packed Miami City Hall as McNeil and others tearfully petitioned the city commission to sack Chief Miguel Exposito.

Sheila McNeil lives just three blocks away from the new mural, on the ground floor of an ill-painted but clean three-story apartment building. She waters a tray of plants in plastic pots and cries as she talks about the mural.

"Travis's friends and family just didn't want him to be forgotten so quickly," she says. "So his friends got some money together for paint and then hooked up with some Wynwood artists."

In fact, they connected with some of the best muralists on Wynwood's booming street art scene: the TCP and VCR crews, including noted guerrilla artists Cynic, Cide, Floe Joe, Crunk, and Stab.

The final work stands amid the less politically minded art that dots warehouse walls around the neighborhood. And its message is as clear to residents like McNeil as it is to the Miami cops who patrol the area's blocks.

"This can't go on," McNeil says. "I hope everyone who sees the painting remembers that."

More photos:

mcneilmural2.jpg
photo by Tim Elfrink

mcneilmural1.jpg
photo by Tim Elfrink

mcneilmural3.jpg
photo by Tim Elfrink

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13 comments
Streets need cleaning
Streets need cleaning

Criminals have powerful guns.

Mothers and families need to educate kids to stay in school and to avoid crime.

Police need to remove the idiots.

Too many criminals
Too many criminals

The serious problem in Miami is too many dumb a** criminals. The shoot mothers, babies, school kids... Too many criminals have too many guns. It is no surprise the police are nervous.

Dee
Dee

Thank you for running this story. Over the months I have asked friends and family living in different areas of the country if they have heard about the rash of shootings by the Miami Police Department. Not a single person outside of Miami knows what's going on here which is a shame. Seven men dying in seven months at the hands of any police department should be national news. I do not want to pass judgement on MPD without having all the facts, but this is a serious problem which needs to be addressed.

Good start
Good start

7 criminals off the streets? Seems like a good start.

Mike Moskos
Mike Moskos

We simply need to pass a law that says that any time any of our employees (police officers) fires his/her gun, they go before a jury--no automatic determination of innocence by the district attorney. Most will be indeed found innocent, but they should be accountable to a jury of their employers.

Nojstc
Nojstc

Let us see now...in the last 24 hours an innocent eight year old black male and his mother, a school teacher were shot during a shootout in Overtown. Neither died. I am waiting for the outcry from Pulse and every other black oreinted organization. Wait, I hear it....guess not..the silence is deafening.

Cops deserve a mural too
Cops deserve a mural too

The cops should get their own mural. The neighborhoods are safer. There are 7 less criminals on the street.

I'm Glad
I'm Glad

OK, lets depict these scu*bags as heros.Don't you get it? miami is a better place without them.You should paint a mural of the cops that killed these losers.

Just A Thought...
Just A Thought...

I believe this is a two-sided tragedy. For the police, who must uphold the law and the family who has lost a loved one. The job of law enforcement is extremely difficult. They must find a way to determine bad seeds from good seeds in an environment not conducive to having much respect for what their job calls them to do. However, they also have a responsibility to the public to protect all as all are considered innocent until proven guilty. The fact is, families and police need to establish more open dialog in their communities. How is the City of Miami establishing a relationship with their residents? How often does someone keep them accountable for fulfilling those metrics that calls for outreach? While to some it appears to be ineffective, situations such as the death of this young man should not be taken in vain and while no one feels that the loss of life should be used as a mechanism for bridging this obvious communication gap that stems from the very history of America, we can conclude that it can become an opening. Frustrations are high on both sides and accountability is low on both sides..so what does one do? We are all just human beings who at the end of the night want to go home to our familes....

Darwin 101
Darwin 101

This is Darwinism. The idiots who carry guns and the idiots who have not learned to obey the Police get shot and killed.

Overtown and Liberty City are safer.

Gnarvaez
Gnarvaez

Frist off !! every woman who is a mother shows their children about rules and how important it is to follow them, especially the law. Secondly, If you live in miami dade county the first thing you learn as a child is to fear the policy, listen to them and do as they say! why because this police force in Dade county is like no ther around the U.S.A they consider them selves higher power like god and feel they can get away with anything! INCLUDING MURDER for absolutly no reason at all.... If you dont know or have not witness the police brutality or muderders ( (NON)- self defense acts) keep your ignorant comments to your self.. in no way am i impling that every Miami dade police officer is a murderer, currupt, injust or not serving in the best interest of the community. However, most of them are unfortunatley.

Julian Munoz
Julian Munoz

First off, we're talking about City of Miami cops here. Not Miami-Dade County Police, they're not the same force. Secondly, any city with an impoverished urban community with high crime deals with corrupt law enforcement unfortunately. Two or three years ago NYC cops went through hell after they killed a black man. Chicago is dealing with an outright war zone right now and LA went through an uprising in the 90's.While you're right about cops and their sense of empowerment, this is just something that naturally happens with law enforcements anywhere. You're also right not all of them are dirt bags, but I would disagree to brashly say most of them are. Most of them are not.

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