Miami Gardens has launched a new website and marketing campaign with hopes that it will aid the city in strengthening the relationship between residents the police department and city leadership.
The site is called Miami Gardens 111 and launched along with a social media campaign using the hashtags #MGMatters and #MyLifeMatters on Facebook and Twitter. The site’s name hopes to emphasize that one citizen’s single decision can save a life.
As multiple shooting incidents over the past few months remain unsolved, the site also includes a letter and video message from Glenn Forshee, the father of 12-year-old Tequila Forshee, who was shot and killed last August.
“The City has rallied behind me, the citizens want a safer city of Miami Gardens — it will happen, it’s happening right now,” Forshee wrote in the letter.
The site’s conception began in September, said Suzan McDowell, president and CEO of Circle of One Marketing, which helped the city with the campaign. Forshee was heavily involved in the planning, and there were also focus groups where residents voiced their concerns and what changes they wanted to see.
“We worked with Mr. Forshee from the beginning,” McDowell said. Tequila’s death “sparked something, and her dad decided he was really going to make something of her life.”
The site includes links and information for after-school events in city parks and schools and employment opportunities through the city’s One Stop Career Center. Mayor Oliver Gilbert believes that part of the reason so many young people are involved in shooting incidents and gang activity is a lack of positive alternatives.
“We have to better engage all of their time and their energy,” Gilbert said. “When we see 14, 15 and 16-year-olds committing crimes, we can’t have them out there idle. That’s an issue.”
The focus groups also voiced a need for more central event information, and the site includes a tab for upcoming city events. The city will host a youth non-violence summit Jan. 14 at Carol City High School and a peace rally Jan. 18 at the Betty T. Ferguson Center. The summit hopes to bring together 20 principals and student leaders in the Miami Gardens area to seek perspectives from students.
There is also continued promotion of the upcoming Jazz in the Gardens and Martin Luther King Jr. Day events on the site and video messages from local radio personalities Rick Party from Hot 105, Big Power 96’s Big Lip Bandit, and Lorenzo “Ice T” Thomas from 99 Jamz.