Black Florida residents take control of their city’s future (video)

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MARK POTTER

Miami Gardens, FL – Some Miami residents have decided that they are going to take control of their city and steer in it the right direction.

Six years after it was born the city of Miami Gardens, Florida, is still under the watchful eye of its first and only mayor, Shirley Gibson. Gibson, a former police officer is now running for Congress.

“I’m very passionate about it. Everyone will tell you when it comes to this city, I take no prisoners,” says Gibson.

Before it became its own city, the area was a hodgepodge of blighted neighborhoods in unincorporated Miami-Dade County with one of the worst crime rates in the country.

In 2003, the neighbors took control and voted to become the largest predominately African-American city in Florida with 110,000 residents. The first thing the new city did was to clean up the trash and impose strict housing codes.

Residents also formed their own police department with nearly 200 officers. Miami Gardens police chief Matthew Boyd said “When they saw their own police officers, their own police department, they took pride in it.”

Meanwhile, the city’s “Jazz in the Gardens” festival drew 36,000 visitors this spring. Many new businesses moved in and with the stadium located in the city limits, next year’s Super Bowl will be held in Miami Gardens.

The latest focus is on better education and the future of young people here, a long way from where this city began.