"I saw a couple of honkies lying on the ground on 62nd Street," said Velderie Davis.
"Those honkies weren't dead, but it sure looked to me like they were dying," said Davis, 29, who was charged with looting in the wave of violence that swept Miami in the past week.
"I didn't feel nothing for those honkies because I know honkies don't feel nothing for me. I hate them, just like they hate me.I'm glad it happened," she said of the violence that ended with 14 dead and 400 injured.
"We showed them," she said. "We showed them that we can hate, too."
This is a story about people who live in black Miami. It cannot be told without describing race hatred and despair. Black Miami seems to have more than its share of both. But there is occasional relief.
That first evening, last Saturday when all hell was breaking loose, Deborah Love had taken the students in Northwestern High School's math club to the suburban Skylake Mall theater to see "The Long Riders."
"Miss Love," as her students call her, is a 30-year-old white teacher who lives near the city's largest black concentration, Liberty City. Northwestern, in the heart of the riot-torn area, has two Anglo students and seven Hispanics. The rest are black. The movie was to be a year-end treat, but Love and her math students got to see only half of it.
A black parent, alarmed by the rioting that had erupted, rushed to the theater. The students, Love and another teacher who accompanied the group, all went home.
"I wasn't scared, because I didn't really know the extent of what was happening -- not until I turned into my neighborhood. There were thousands of people on the street, and a lot of them began throwing rocks at my car," Love said.
She made it to her apartment safely and stayed there throughout the rioting Saturday and Sunday nights and all during the three days of law-enforced calm that followed. Black students and their parents kept tabs on Love's safety, and filled her in on events in the street.
Love returned to school today, the first day of classes since the rioting. "I like it here at Northwestern," she said.
"We like her too," a black student told a reporter. "Man, no way we were going to let something happen to Miss Love."
Eleven days before the rioting began, the Rev. Irvin Elligan Jr., chairman of the Dade County Community Relations Board, gave his mid-day report to the county board of commissioners. It was grim.
"From every angle, every perspective, the community relations board perceives that Dade County is in a state of crisis," the report said in part. p
"In our law enforcement agencies, there is police brutality, including murder; there are allegations of police corruption involving alliances with drug dealers and the theft of confiscated money.
"In our school system there are charges of official corruption at the highest level.
"In our neighborhoods, there are drug-related, gangland-style killings; joblessness; inflation and juvenile delinquency," the report said.
"Fear and anger are prominently shown among our citizens," the report continued. "Many of them feel they can no longer trust their police, their neighbors, their government officials, nor even the news media.
"The potential for open conflict in Dade County is a clear and present danger," the report warned.
This week Elligan was sitting in his office in Liberty City's new covenant Presbyterian church, where he is pastor. "It's painful to live in a community of people who don't give a damn about being arrested, who have given up all hope," said Elligan.
"It's painful to see the severe, raw hatred on the part of some blacks -- people who have the attitude that any other blacks who associate with whites are nothing but a bunch of Uncle Toms and hypocrites.
"But it's even more painful to know that all of this hatred, all of this death and destruction could have been avoided if black people here hadn't been shoved from one ghetto to another, if they hadn't been treated poorly by the police and the banks and the employers, if only people could have been treated fairly from the beginning, if only they had been treated with justice . . .," Elligan said, shaking his head.
Black Miami has the poverty, unemployment, poor services and despair that mark many black areas across the country. There is also a dearth of leadership that blacks like Elligan said helped contribute to the unrest.
"In Miami, there is no black person with a universally strong position among his or her fellow blacks," Elligan said, echoing the comments of other prominent blacks who requested anonymity on the subject of leadership.
In Miami, there is also something else -- a large affluent, politically powerful Hispanic community.
"That means we are third-class citizens in our own country," said Wellington Rolle, a local community activist.
"Can you believe that?" Rolle said, reflecting the sentiment of other blacks on what they call the "Cuban problem." "At least in other cities, blacks are second class. But here, we're not even up to that," he said.
For years, Miami has been the jumping-off point for black Haitians fleeing the poverty and dictatorship of their Caribbean country. And for years, American blacks here have watched with disgust the way in which the Haitians have been treated, in comparison to the treatment afforded the mostly white Cuban refugees.
"The Cubans have been given everything by the government," said James McQueen, a local black attorney. "But the Haitians have been shuttled off to jails and detention centers, denied the right to work, and treated like trash.
"Black people here see that, and they figure that the only reason Haitians get that kind of treatment is because they're black, too. The people know it's not fair," McQueen said.
If the rule is that poverty and perceived or real race discrimination breed the kind of hatred, violence and despair that have hurt this city, then, like all rules, there are exceptions.
Among the students returning to Northwestern High today were Donny Stephens, Angela Campbell, Genevieve Floyd, Derrick Lowery, Keith Carswell and Robert Jones. Four of them live in the riot area; all of them say they have been confronted with racism at one time or another.
All felt the Miami riot was regrettable, but perhaps inevitable. "But I don't believe we hate anybody," said Jones, editor of the school newspaper, The Northwestern Happening. "I suppose the riot did give blacks here some needed recognition, but I like to think that we could have gotten it without the violence," he said.
The student editor, who lives in Liberty City, said he planned -- as did his colleagues in the interview -- to go on to college "some way, some how."