I have been invested in the Coconut Grove community for 20 years, as a volunteer, an employee of a business there and a concerned citizen. Moving Coral Gables’ trolley-bus repair depot to the West Grove is an action steeped in historical injustice. Once again, this pleasant community is being treated unjustly, with condescension and with a sense of privileged charity by those in power, whether they are business people or politicians.
What I saw and heard at a recent meeting run by city of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff was appalling. Sarnoff is on the wrong side of this issue, as are the phantom Coral Gables politicians who sent their lawyer but skipped this important meeting, which was overwhelmingly attended by West Grove residents. Sarnoff’s presentation was self-serving and insulting, publicizing the names of those in need who he so selflessly helped throughout his career.
This is a racial issue of the first order. It is a replay of the playbook from the ’50s and ’60’s used by people with political and economic power to place their ‘inconvenient’ highways, stadiums, garages, depots, hospitals and prisons in the less powerful neighborhoods. Then they would cite “property rights” to sugarcoat such unseemly actions and the sprinkling of “benefits” already bestowed upon the “ungrateful” neighborhood.
That is why Sarnoff’s presentation was so demeaning to our local democracy. He defended Coral Gables, with people who do not vote for him; there was the glaring absence of any Coral Gables politician and a “master knows best” attitude vividly on display. I was moved by the large presence of residents and by the many volunteers who are working like mad, on various fronts, to put a stop to this miscarriage of justice.
I suggest that the West Grove community contact Al Sharpton and Bishop Victor Curry, of Miami’s New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith International, who sits on the board of Sharpton’s National Action Network. Jesse Jackson should also be informed. If necessary, I am willing to donate funds, time and heart to help make this possible.
The glaring light of the media that their presence attracts will expose what is going on in Miami. The West Grove is a living witness and survivor of brick-and-mortar racism.
Let the City Beautiful build its oh-so-perfect repair depot within its own boundaries. Let the West Grove residents have some peace. And let Commissioner Sarnoff, who has done many wonderful things for Miami, get back on the right side of this issue and use his talent to protect and preserve the neighborhood of those who voted for him.
Carlos Medina, Miami