THIS MONTH IN HISTORY- MAY 2019

Morgan Coleman, Entertainment Editor

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The world changes constantly. On any given day, people make history and in some cases even change the future. The human race occasionally absorbs themselves in the now and totally disregards the past which has shaped this town, state, country and world. A dig into the past reveals suppressed history that has often been forgotten or overlooked. This forgotten, overlooked, untaught history must be remembered if we are to be united.

May 18, 1980:

Mount St. Helen Erupts, Miami Community Protests After Officers Acquitted in Brutality Case

On May 18, 1980, ash from the eruption of Mount St. Helen sprinkled across 12 states, affecting millions of people. While half of the nation mourned the deaths of 57 civilians and recovered from the largest volcanic eruption in American history, 3,302.9 miles away all hell broke loose over the brutal death of African American Arthur McDuffie.

Thirty-three year old Arthur McDuffie was riding his motorcycle in Miami, Florida when Metro-Dade Police Department officers signaled for him to pull over. McDuffie did not comply and refused to pull over, causing an eight mile police chase through Miami. When officers finally apprehended McDuffie they proceeded to brutally beat him into a coma. There was no evidence that McDuffie resisted arrest when apprehended, but that did not stop the officers from beating him and later running over his motorcycle to make it seem like McDuffie obtained his injuries from a traffic accident.  

Four days after the beating, McDuffie died and his autopsy reports showed that he had been beaten to death. The five MDPD officers were charged with manslaughter and evidence tampering, and faced a six week trial in Tampa, Florida. Miami’s black media covered the case relentlessly despite living in a city and in a time period where racial tensions were high.

The five MDPD officers were acquitted (freed from criminal charge), causing an uproar in Miami. Riots and protests over the officers’ acquittal lasted nine days straight. The black community of Miami were hurt, angry, and disappointed that their city failed them once again. The riots and protests were so extreme that a state of emergency was declared, and the National Guard was on site.

The brutal, unjust, and malicious attack on Arthur McDuffie caused riots that resulted in 57 deaths, more than 1400 arrests, and $125 million in property damage.

This month in history we remember the lives of the 57 people lost in the Mount St. Helens eruptions, the life of Arthur McDuffie, and the 57 lives lost while protesting an important cause. We also remember that the fight against police brutality is not over.