A group calling itself the Citizens Coalition for Racial Justice met today in the presence of heavily armed National Guardsmen to express support for Miami's riot-ripped black community. The guard was not needed.
The group of 300, largely composed of whites, Hispanics and members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, heard speeches, sang songs and held hands in the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church of Miami.
Besides an expression of support for local black demands, speakers said the meeting's purpose was to dispel any impressions that Miami is a hopelessly racially polarized city -- white against black against brown.
"We are profoundly grieved by all of those who have died in the uprising," said Andres Gomez, referring to the race riots that hit this city last weekend.
The law enforcement officials present attested to the tension that still filled Miami a week after the riots. However, local officials, backed by about 1,000 remaining guardsmen and by beefed-up local police patrols, said today they anticipate a relatively peaceful Memorial Day weekend. Meanwhile, Circuit Court Judge Thomas E. Scott in Miami agreed to delay the so-called "Gold Plumbing" trials of two black Miami educators "due to the racial atmosphere in the area."
Scott cited "local exceptional circumstances" in agreeing to delays sought by the attorneys of Solomon Barnes, who was to go on trial this week on grand theft charges, and Johnny Jones, who was convicted April 30 of attempted grand theft and was to stand trial in early July on separate charges of soliciting and accepting bribes and attempting to silence a state's witness.
Barnes, a suspended high school principal, is accused of joining Jones, who has been fired as Dade County school superintendent, in an attempt to use school funds to buy deluxe plumbing fixtures, some gold-plated, for personal use.