“Whenever they have a white mayor, even when they don’t agree, they address that mayor with a different kind of tone. It’s not the same tone they address the current mayor,” she said.
Former North Miami Mayor Joe Celestin understands the frustration on both sides.
“It is partly true that you have that stuff going on Haitian radio, but it’s also true on the other side that they contribute to this racism stuff,’’ he said. “Neither side is innocent.”
Missing, he said, is a frank and open community conversation.
Pierre, the current mayor, has been criticized for several incidents during his two terms in office, most notably, his nephew’s arrest last year for allegedly accepting a bribe to sway council votes. The case is pending.
A council meeting held last year in which residents brought up the arrest ended with Haitian-Americans and white residents yelling “racist” at each other.
Tondreau was at that meeting.
“The mayor may have had issues, but he was never convicted in a court of law,” she said.” The perception in the community is that the white people on the east side think the mayor is a criminal.”
Keys, who is a vocal critic of Pierre’s, said it’s unfair that disagreeing with the mayor is lumped into being against Haitians.
“If he was white, I’d be in his face just as much. I don’t think that corruption is a Haitian issue,” said Keys. “I think it’s an Andre Pierre issue.”
After the May 14 election, Celestin said the city should host an open forum that calls on residents to stop the feuding.
“A community is comprised of different people.” he said. “North Miami is a melting pot. We need to recognize that: One people, one group, one love.”