Homeless registered sex offenders set up camp near Hialeah

There’s a push in Miami-Dade County to shut down a homeless sex offender encampment along a corridor of Northwest 71st street just outside of Hialeah. They are living without access to restrooms, showers or a way to dispose of their garbage. 

Registered sex offenders said government regulations limiting how close they can live to schools and parks have left them with few options. 

A check of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website lists hundreds of sexual offenders and predators as transient. They use the area as their official address. A man said he was caught during a sting in Broward County and has been living at the camp since February.

“I was on a social networking app,” the man said. “I agreed to meet a 15-year-old boy … A woman across the hallway from my sister’s apartment has two small children and I understand she was scared.”

Steve Grafton, the owner of Grafton Furniture, is among the entrepreneurs in Northwest Miami-Dade who are concerned about the sanitary conditions at the camp and the safety of the area. 

“Miami-Dade County should be embarrassed because of what these people are living like,” Grafton said. “My wife, my daughter work here. I’ve already told all the employees they cannot be here after 6 p.m. because it’s just not safe.”

Surveillance video from Quality Metal Panels captured a man trespassing to throw his tent in their dumpster. Tito Zarza, the owner of Quality Metal Panels, said homeless men also blocked access to the business and scared away other possible tenants. 

“We tried to open the other business right there in this space” said Tito Zarza, the owner of Quality Metal Panels.

Ron Book, chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, said there are “some very serious and significant concerns” about the health conditions. He said social workers and police officers were offering the homeless sex offenders financial assistance and access to housing.

Getting housing is one thing, keeping it is another, according to one sex offender. He said work is scarce once employers learn about his conviction.

“This problem pops up from time to time in our community” Deputy Mayor Russell Benford said. “In the past, just like we’ve had this issue, we’ve always responded.”

Benford said a long-term plan is needed. Both he and Book agreed although housing is limited, there are areas where sex offenders can live in the county.

Book said the county will set a deadline to shut down the encampment. Homeless sex offenders will be responsible for finding their own housing and the Trust will assist temporarily with costs and services to help people get settled and employed.

“People have to work within the confines of the law,” Book said. “And whatever their behavior has been, they have to deal with that.”








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A look back at Hurricane Andrew, 25 years later








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A look back at Hurricane Andrew, 25 years later




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Tourist nearly goes for scary ride after man steals taxi in Aventura

A man running away from police officers almost took a tourist for a ride Friday night when he stole a taxi, according to the Aventura Police Department. 

Aventura Sgt. Chris Goranitis said the man first committed a burglary at the Kosher Kingdom Market, and an employee at the market was running after him when he attacked a cab driver with a pair of scissors.

“The cab driver sustained a rip to his shirt and small scratch to his shoulder,” Goranitis said. 

The tourist managed to jump out, before the man sped away in the taxi at the 3100 block of North Country Club Drive.

Witnesses said they saw several police cars speeding in the area. Goranitis said police officers caught up to the man and arrested him at the 19300 block of Collins Avenue.  


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Former black supremacist spreads ‘Blacks for Trump’ message

During President Donald Trump’s speech in Phoenix, it was impossible not to notice Maurice Symonette, also known as Michael Symonette and Maurice Woodside, and better known as “Michael The Blackman.” 

The South Florida man was standing behind the president Tuesday night, and he was holding his “Blacks for Trump” sign again. He has also worn his “Trump and Republicans are not racist” T-shirt to other Trump rallies around the country where has also gotten preferential sitting arrangements. 

His affiliation to the Nation of Yahweh, a black supremacist religious movement founded in Miami, was not on the sign. The conspiracy theorist who supports Republicans said he doesn’t know if Trump’s campaign organizers were aware of the charges he and other Yahweh followers faced. He was acquitted. 

“I really don’t know if he knows. I really haven’t asked him, but you know Moses was accused of murder but he was still a Messiah,” Symonette said about Hulon Mitchell, Jr., the leader of the separatist sect who was convicted of conspiring to murder whites as the cult’s initiation rite. 

The 58-year-old self-proclaimed minister wore his message on a T-shirt Wednesday to show his support at an event in Doral with Vice President Mike Pence.

Outside of the convention center in Phoenix, protesters and police officers clashed. The signs were not as friendly to Trump: “Toxic Trump” and “Lock Him Up!” There were also pictures of the president with a Hitler-style mustache. 

“I love Trump because he is letting the real white man and the real black man get some money,” Symonette said during a long rant mentioning Clinton and his position on federal taxes and government regulation. 

Symonette said he runs the Boss Group Ministries, also known as the Full Gospel of Christ Fellowship, out of Miami-Dade. When Symonette attended Trump’s rally last year, some conservatives used Symonette’s sign as a hashtag to show that Republicans aren’t racist.

Records show Symonette ran Boss Title, Virtuous Women United and Freedom Fighters International out of 1175 NE 125 St. in North Miami. He ran Boss Group Ministries and Boss Group Foundations out of 15020 South River Dr., near Opa-locka.  

Last year, the FCC issued a warning against the organization for running an unauthorized radio broadcast and authorities responded to the organization’s home to investigate two deaths. 

Symonette said the Trump campaign doesn’t pay him to attend his campaign rallies with the “Blacks for Trump” sign and he waits in line like everybody else.

“I raise my own money … One time I had a companion pass and when I had that companion pass I was flying everywhere because I could fly for free so a lot of times me, him and the brothers would drive to the events.”


Symonette’s rant Wednesday in Doral

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