Mother Nature worked with the National Guard to maintain order today in Miami, the scene of bloody race riots one week ago.
Torrential rains and winds up to 60 miles an hour helped keep people off the streets Saturday night and most of today, making the peacekeeping easier for about 1,000 Guardsmen still on riot duty and for local police officers working 12-hour shifts.
County and city leaders had been concerned that the long Memorial Day weekend would bring a recurrence of the violence that claimed 15 lives and injured 400.But buoyed by the relative quiet so far, they were hoping to make it through the holiday without any problems.
"I just hope it keeps on raining," said one ranking city official, who requested anonymity.
But according to Benjamin Hooks, executive director of the NAACP, and former Miami city commissioner Athalie Range, it will take more than bad weather to improve the racial climate here and in other cities across the country.
Speaking on the nationally televised interview show "Meet the Press" (NBC), the two warned that the basic cases of the Miami riots exist all over the nation.
"There is unemployment in Miami, which is 18 percent in the black community, compared to 7 percent in the white . . . In my judgement -- and I hope that the messenger is not killed for bringing the bad message -- the conditions [in Miami] which can really lead to riots exist in every American city," Hooks said.
Accordingly, Hooks said the NAACP is asking the Carter administration to appoint a "Kerner-type commission" to investigate the causes of the Miami violence and to check on and make recommendations for improving conditions in other cities "not after the next riot, but before it." The 1968 commission on civil disturbance under then-Illinois governor Otto Kerner conducted a similar study which concluded America was moving toward two separate societies, "one white, one black."
The uprising here was touched off by the acquittal of four white ex-police officers accused of beating a black Miami insurance salesman to death. However, in the aftermath of the violence there have been many allegations, mostly coming from the city's black community, that the many other underlying problems and frustrations that prompted the rioting could have been alleviated if Miami had stronger black leadership.
Range, the former municipal official and one of the few substantial black business people here, was asked in the television interview about the alleged failure of local black leadership.
"I do not feel that the black leadership is lacking," she said. "We simply are not heard until an emergency of this type arises."
Range said that some of the national black figures who came to Miami in the riot's wake were not welcomed by black Miamians, "simply because some of those persons who came in had no suggestions to offer." Also, she said, the presence of the national figures created something of a circus atmosphere.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Health and Human Services Patricia Roberts Harris said he believed that the rioting in Miami was the eruption of a "latent anger" felt by blacks around the country, who are frustrated by continuing joblessness and hopelessness in the nation's ghettos.
Harris, appearing on "Issues and Answers" (ABC) said that while many whites feel problems have been solved, she agreed with blacks who believe that much more money and resources are needed.
But Harris staunchly defended President Carter and the cutbacks he has made in social programs. She said the inflationary economy and the need for a defense buildup had forced Carter to make some difficult choices. But she said she believed he had responded by leaving all major social programs intact.