Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell, the hip-hop star who shot to fame with the raunchy 2 Live Crew group in the 1990s and challenged censorship all the way to the U.S Supreme Court, is upset with the mayor of Miami Beach.
Among the policies that have upset Campbell is a ballot measure put forth by Mayor Dan Gelber that would ban the sale of alcohol after 2 a.m. in Miami Beach, which is famous for its nightlife.
Gelber, who is up for reelection today, Nov. 2, has former Miami Beach mayor and fellow Democrat Philip Levine on his side. Levine, who served as mayor of the city from 2013 to 2017, is encouraging voters to vote “yes” on the 2 a.m. alcohol ban ballot measure.
“Vote YES on 2AM!!! We have a real ‘blotto-tourism’ problem!!!” the ex-mayor tweeted, referring to the masses of tourists who travel to Miami Beach to party and get drunk.
Miami Beach’s “blotto-tourism” problem threatens to affect adjacent areas of the city, wrote University of Toronto professor Richard Florida, an American urban studies theorist focusing on social and economic theory, in The Miami Herald.
“Ultimately, unregulated over-tourism threatens to undermine the broader fabric not just of the entertainment district but of the broader community, spilling over into adjacent residential neighborhoods. It is critical to protect those neighborhoods and the city before it is too late,” Florida wrote.
But Campbell is so upset about the mayors’ policies that he described them in a tweet as being “in line with the KKK of the 60s.”
Campbell tweeted, “If you think liberal Democrats not racist against black people take a look at now democratic Mayor of Miami Beach The commission and most of the Mayors before them Policies against black people. They are right in line with the KKK of the 60s”.
On Oct. 20, 1990, a six-member jury found Campbell and 2 Live Crew not guilty of obscenity charges for their third album, “As Nasty as They Wanna Be.” Earlier that year, the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Florida had ruled “Nasty” as obscene. 2 Live Crew ended up in front of the highest court in the land for a different issue related to fair use and won.
Campbell, who will be 61 in December, still lives in his native Miami. He home schools his son (now 12), Variety reported in October 2020. And he has been coaching high school football for at least 15 years.
Spring Break is an economic boon for Miami Beach that attracts masses of tourists who come to party. But on Day 2 of Spring Break in March 2021, the city issued an emergency 8 p.m. curfew in Miami Beach’s Art Deco Cultural District. With large numbers of Black youth attending the celebration, some charged the curfew was racially motivated.
The heavy-handed tactics were called racist by social justice advocates because the actions were targeted to a predominantly African American tourist clientele, The Guardian reported.
“The measures taken this year by Miami Beach and its officials wasn’t a very hospitable approach,” said Daniella Pierre, president of the Miami chapter of the NAACP. Pierre said the city’s approach in dealing with spring break crowds — more than 1,000 people were arrested during Spring Break 2021 — was intimidating. “It was not welcoming, and we didn’t appreciate it at all, especially when you have other events and you don’t use that tone.”
Gelber and Levine were caught up recently in another controversy. The Miami New Times obtained leaked audio from a video recording in which Gelber and Levine appear to court developers during a private meeting held on Sept. 13 over Zoom and at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. The meeting concerned the future of the South Beach Entertainment District.
During the meeting, which was attended and recorded by city commission candidate Fabian Basabe, Gelber can be heard “offering the institutional support of his office to, if necessary, bypass his own commission in order to get projects approved that did not have the municipal governing body’s support,” The Miami New Times reported.
“I’m prepared to do whatever we need to do and support any idea, even if it’s not particularly popular,” Gelber said in the recording. “I will push to put it on the ballot or you can put it on the ballot…you know, forcefully without commission approval.”
Of the 29 known attendees who logged on for the meeting, 16 were well-known real estate developers, hospitality executives, or monied investors. Among them was billionaire Norman Braman, who has donated at least $11,000 to Gelber’s mayoral re-election campaign via multiple corporations registered under his name, according to campaign finance records, The Miami New Times reported.
Opponents of the proposed 2 a.m. last call for alcohol said the leaked video suggests the real motive behind it isn’t about curbing crime on South Beach. The true purpose is to drive local businesses along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue out of Miami Beach so that wealthy investors can buy the bankrupted businesses and redevelop the area into unpopular high-rises, Florida Politics reported.
Gelber is seeking a third term as mayor and is running against four first-time candidates.
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