Interview with Mayor Maurice Ferre
QUESTION 1
INTERVIEWER:

OK, and tell me about the consequences.

MAURICE FERRE:

The, the McDuffie trial was one of the critical points in the history of Miami. And the reason of course is that, ah, For weeks on end the newspapers and especially the television stations in the evening would report what was going on in the trials so that the people of Miami and especially the Black community were patently aware of every gruesome detail of how that poor man had died. That they held his head, that the, what kind of a, of a flashlight, ah, with how many batteries, where the blood, was splattering**. It was just horrible. There was no question but that, but that, ah, ah, this was a, a terrible thing that had occurred, it was tragic. I don't think anybody had any, any questions but that there was guilt. These police officers had no right to kill that man the way he was killed. He wa- at that point was not resisting, ah, and yet they, they battered his, his, his head in. And they're all of a sudden not guilty. It was shocking, it was a shock. All the things that had built up to that, all of the, ah, many problems that Miami had in the Black community, in poverty, the underclass, racism, all these things, you know, were coming together. The Mariel, ah, refugees coming in or, or the advent of, economic, ah, ah, competition between the, the, ah, the Cubans and the Blacks, or the perception of it because, a lot of times it wasn't real, but just a perception of it. The lack of opportunity, the lack of jobs, ah, the lack of upward mobility, unemployment, underemployment, ah, single family homes, pregnant, ah, teenagers, drugs. All of Pandora's boxes of problems that were coming together. All of a sudden this is the tinder box that somebody strikes a, a light and, and, and all of a sudden there's an explosion. And that's exactly what occurred, ah, there's no, there's no question but that McDuffie was a major turning point in our, in our history. And as it occurred, those of us that had positions of responsibility were painfully aware, ah, of the, of the potential, but frankly, I've got to tell you it never occurred to me, it really just never occurred to me that McDuffie was, that the police officers, those four officers on trial in Tampa, ah, would, would be found not guilty, totally not guilty. I thought something, somehow they'd be, they'd end up doing some time in jail or they would have some, there would be some consequences of this, but, ah, nothing. So that was a shock to me as well as to the rest of the community.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, I want to stop now just a moment to make sure everything is working right and then we'll just get right into it.