Arthur McDuffie, 1979

Written By: Elsie Law - Dec• 29•11

“Arthur McDuffie was a cool brother. He was the type of brother in the hood just living life and taking it easy. His only vice was motorcycles. Well, not a vice actually, but a brother flossing on top a Kawaski in the early eighties in Miami? It wasn’t something cops took kindly to. On December 17, 1979, he popped a wheelie for the last time. Word around the campfire was that McDuffie whizzed past a cop and had the nerve to give him the middle finger. Reports conflict on whether McDuffie stopped or kept on whizzing by and said to hell with it. When he did finally stop, imagine slave drivers catching Nat Turner on his way to France. Nine cops wailed a can of whip a** on that dude. They jumped on him like he owed them money. They smashed his head with a baton until he fell into a coma and eventually died. McDuffie’s mother, Eula McDuffie told the press the obvious: ‘They beat my son like a dog. They beat him just because he was riding a motorcycle and because he was black.’

The cops ran over McDuffie’s motorcycle to make it look like he got injuries from a crash. Talk about gangster.

My relatives were out there protesting with signs blaring JUSTICE FOR MCDUFFIE. It’s sad that it took McDuffie’s head getting cracked open to get people off the stoop and out in the street demanding better conditions, but, hell, it was a means to an end. Dr. King and Malcolm would have been proud to see all those folks out there protesting for equality. This was what those cats died for. Miami was the last stop on that civil rights train, and we were hungry for change. The cops were charged and officials moved their trial to Tampa…

The trial started on March 31 and it was commotion from jump street. The defense removed blacks from the jury pool. Details about the beatdown shocked the world. Those were some cold-blooded dudes. After pulling McDuffie off the bike, they beat the brother with nightsticks and flashlights.

The one Cuban cop was the most vicious. He sat on top of McDuffie and slammed a nightstick into the back of his head. America was shocked by the news coming from paradise. The thing is, those pictures on Miami postcards of pearly white sand beaches and art deco hotels were as foreign to us as the idea that people actually had the kind of money to stay in hotels like that. Then the verdict was read.

Not guilty…

When Eula McDuffie cried in that Tampa courtroom, her tears fell on all of us.”


“They stole more than seven hundred kilos of powder that came in on the boats up the Miami River. One cop, Alex Marrero, went to prison for offering protection to one of the sugglers for $300,000. Remember him? He was the same cop acquitted of killing Arthur McDuffie back in 1980. The Miami River Cops, as they were called, made cocaine accessible to locals outside ritzy Miami Beach and Brickell Avenue.” -From, “Magic City: Trials of a Native Son” By: Trick Daddy w/ Peter Bailey

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