Miami percussionist Jackson Strong says he doesn’t think playing live music is a crime.
So when he was approached by police at South Pointe Park in Miami Beach last month after playing with his band, he said he refused to show his ID when asked. This led to him being handcuffed and kicked out of the park, according to a video of the June 12 encounter that Strong posted to his Instagram.
Strong said he was not arrested but was fined $150 for performing at the park without a permit.
Strong, a 38-year-old mental coach and member of local rock band Lotus Collective, now hopes to convince Miami Beach commissioners to reform city laws requiring a permit to play music in South’s most popular public spaces. Beach.
A petition created as part of the effort has garnered more than 600 signatures. Supporters called a recent city commission meeting to demand reform. And it caught the attention of Beach commissioners interested in discussing the matter.
“We deserve to have our place in the world and not be suffocated by an outdated government that is ruining the heart of what Miami is,” Strong said.
In most of Miami Beach, playing live music in public is permitted without a permit. The only restrictions are in South Beach, where a local law requires performers or street vendors to apply for permits through a government lottery. There are 31 permits available through a quarterly lottery to perform in any of the 31 designated performance or sales areas south of 24th Street, such as Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive.
South Pointe Park is not a designated area, so street performances are strictly prohibited there.
Michael Cantalupo, a Miami Beach resident and filmmaker who created the petition, said the current law restricts live music to exactly the part of town where musicians want to perform. South Beach is a world famous tourist destination known for its nightlife and entertainment.
Cantalupo, who also plays percussion, said he believed the law was unconstitutional and was lobbying local leaders to change it. He proposes allowing unauthorized performances in city parks at certain times, replacing the lottery with an on-demand system and raising the cap on the number of permits issued. He also wants to streamline the application process to enable faster permit approvals.
“The city is worried that someone is just playing their stereo very loudly with music with very hateful lyrics and scaring the public,” he said. “It always happens anyway.”
With the recent closures of music venues in Miami – such as Churchill’s Pub and Las Rosas – Cantalupo said local musicians were running out of spaces to play.
“We’re looking for that space to be able to do that,” he said. “So we turned to parks.”
Miami Beach Commissioner Alex Fernandez, who met with Cantalupo, said he agreed the current law went too far. He said the law was intended to protect residents’ quality of life from “loud and unpleasant amplified music”, but he sees nothing wrong with live music in a park.
“Let’s limit the bad stuff, but let the good positive activity flow,” he said.
Fernandez did not provide details on how he would differentiate certain types of musical performances. He said he wanted to discuss the matter at an upcoming town committee meeting.
Fernandez said he is still studying the matter, but would generally favor allowing unauthorized live music in public parks during certain hours with criteria on crowd size and noise levels, and the streamlining of the authorization process.
“We can’t regulate as much as we take away from their quality of life,” he said.