Miami Hip Hop Summit

Slicksno.com -  Hip Hop NewsThe Miami Herald reports that, a symposium in Miami Beach brought together the hip-hop community, police and academic experts to debate.

The hip hop symposium Friday (5/14) at the Miami Beach Convention Center provided a rare cultural mix. Among the eleven panelists were Miami rap legend Luther Campbell, Miami Police Chief John Timoney and Harvard professor Marcyliena Morgan.

The symposium was the result of a Herald story that broke in March describing how Miami and Miami Beach police keep tabs on hip-hop artists and their entourages.

The event was a gathering of representatives from communities that rarely have reason to sit down in the same room. In front of about 70 people, they argued about the complex and controversial issues dividing rappers and police.

“The whole day was a success, because we were able to get together people who on a day-to-day basis don’t come in contact with each other,” said Henry Crespo, chairman of the Miami Beach Black Host Committee, a cosponsor of the event.

The panelists answered written questions that were submitted to the moderator as well as speaking about the relationship between the police and the hip-hop community.

According to the Herald report the summit was very constructive but, at times, the panel showed a cultural divide between law enforcement and members of the hip-hop community.

There were several heated exchanges over flash points such as the binder of information received from the NYPD and the so-called East Coast-West Coast rap wars.

During one heated exchange Police Chief Timoney acknowledge the damage the binder has done to Miami’s image and said he planned to burn it.

Campbell complained that the Miami Beach Black Host Committee lacked representatives of the hip-hop community.

Crespo defended the committee. “We’re more than hip-hop here,” he said. “We’re more than one dimension.”

As part of the event law enforcement officers had a training seminar where leading academics discussed hip hop concepts and other urban topics.

“It was some of the best training we’ve ever had,” Miami Beach police Chief Donald De Lucca said. “It made me feel like we’ve just scratched the surface on things we can learn about this culture.”

Most of those in attendance from the hip-hop industry applauded the concept of the symposium, but still some said it was long overdue.

“They should have done it a long time ago because if they had, the problems they had with the first Memorial Day weekend and that binder wouldn’t have been necessary,” Campbell said, referring to the fact that city officials acknowledged being caught off-guard by large hip hop crowds on Memorial Day 2001.

“The hip-hop community is such a huge generator of revenue for Miami Beach and South Florida, and it should be understood.”

Some attendees of the symposium expressed concern that it would be only a one-time event.

“This grew out of the need to be responsive to a problem,” said panelist Cedric Muhammad, publisher of BlackElectorate.com.

“There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s only something wrong if this was only for public relations and political benefit.”