Scarred by the memories of gunfire during past annual celebrations, elected leaders and local police spent Monday morning imploring the public to leave their guns at home on July 4.
“Please do not fire into the air,” urged Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson. “When a bullet goes up, it always has to come down.”
In what has become a common ritual, Edmonson preached gun restraint from behind a podium at Jefferson Reaves Sr. Park. She was flanked by a gaggle of summer campers, county employees, police and local and state representatives.
The theme of the gathering: “One bullet kills the party.” The face of the movement: Local musician Pitbull. Though Pitbull wasn’t on hand Monday, a photo of him peering out from behind his customary shades and looking toward the crowd leaned against the speaker’s podium.
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Like past gatherings, Monday’s discussion was aimed at stopping celebratory gunfire. Yet shooting deaths — 46 so far this year in unincorporated Miami-Dade — bled into the discussion.
“We just need to put the guns down, period,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez. “Don’t use them on July 4 to shoot up in the air and don’t use them on July 5, either.”
The “One bullet kills the party” movement was started by Miami Mayor Tomàs Regalado, after a deadly shooting at an Overtown party for someone who had just been released from jail in 2010. Others were injured.
Regalado later convinced Pitbull to lend his voice to the fight to stop gun violence. But it was a shooting on New Year’s Eve in 2010 and another last January during the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade that cemented the fight to stop gun violence.
In the first incident, 6-year-old Andrea Fregonese and his family were visiting Miami from Italy and having dinner on an outdoor patio at a Design District restaurant called Mai Tardi on New Year’s Eve, when the boy began complaining to his parents of chest pains.
At the hospital, doctor’s found that Andrea had been shot in the stomach. The bullet is believed to have come from a gun that fired a bullet up in the air from as far as half a mile or more away. Andrea recovered.
Then this year during the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade gunfire erupted at a Brownsville Park bearing the civil rights icon’s name. Eight people were shot. Others were injured during a stampede from the park to escape the gunfire. Remarkably, everyone lived. The shooters were arrested.
“Don’t pick up the guns y’all,” said state House Rep. Cynthia Stafford D-Miami. “Picking up a gun is a choice. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy the food. Bullets don’t have eyes.”