Wholesalers In Miami’s Trendy Wynwood District Feel Like They Are Getting Forced Out

One doesn’t have to venture far into Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood to see that it’s currently undergoing a major transition.

Formerly empty warehouses, newly restored, now function as both galleries and canvases for popular street artists. The gentrification of the area, aided in part by Tony Goldman’s development of the Wynwood Walls, has changed the neighborhood over the past decade and turned it into a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

Only a few streets over from the art scene resides the fashion and garment district. A culmination of shops and boutiques specializing in wholesale for over 20 years, people associated with the area have noted the effect that Wynwood’s cultural and economic revival has had on their trade.

“[The area] has changed totally, now it’s just art all over,“ Victor Pinzon, the manager of Marcel’s Fashions said. Marcel’s Fashions is a wholesale business that’s been operating in the Wynwood area since 1985. Over the last ten years Pinzon’s seen the fashion district transform with the growth of the nearby art scene.

“Before, you couldn’t leave the warehouse after 5 PM because it was too dangerous,” Pinzon said in a phone interview. “Ever since the art came in more and more people come into the neighborhood now.”

“I love Wynwood. My mom does too but we do have to move,” Hannah Blinder said.

“It’s changed a lot,“ Hannah Blinder, a fashion connoisseur and entrepreneur said. Blinder’s mother Hye K. Blinder owns Hannah Bella, a trendy wholesale shop located in the heart of the fashion district.

“Now they’re turning everything into really cool restaurants, clubs, lounges,” Blinder said.

Both Blinder and Pinzon agree that Wynwood’s gentrification is good for the city overall, adding to Miami’s reputation and giving it a more cosmopolitan feel.

Photo Credit: Bea Sampaio

Photo Credit: Bea Sampaio

“Nowadays you can say you’re based in Wynwood and have people know you’re in the art district,” Pinzon said, citing one of the perks of the fashion district’s current location.

However, when asked about how the gentrification of the neighborhood was affecting the fashion district overall Blinder said it was a time of transition.

“I love Wynwood. My mom does too but we do have to move,” Blinder said. “All the buildings are not really wanting wholesalers here.”

Blinder explained that many of the warehouses utilized by these wholesale businesses are leased, not owned. The proprietors of these buildings, eager to capitalize on the art scene’s success, are more interested in leasing to potential galleries and restaurants than to wholesale shops.

“ [The owners] want to replace these wholesalers with art galleries and restaurants, stuff like that,” Blinder said. “They want to change the landscape of the whole neighborhood.”

The question now is how long the fashion district’s workers will actually continue to benefit from Wynwood’s gentrification, especially if and when the owners of these warehouses are no longer interested in leasing them space.

Blinder herself believes that the fashion district will relocate in the next few years to Allapattah, a nearby Miami neighborhood with ample warehouse space and an already existing textile industry. She hopes that the arrival of these wholesale businesses into the area will contribute to the community overall.

“We are moving down to that area and we are kind of just hoping for the same trend, like increases in safety, with everyone moving there,” Blinder said.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Bea Sampaio/RISE NEWS

This story was originally published on on June 8, 2015.

Why LeBron Needs To Fight For Tamir Rice: A History Of Athletes As Social Justice Warriors

Athletes play an outsized role in our society. Their exploits dominate large portions of many lives and have a dramatic impact on our emotional security. In a sense, they’re family.

LeBron James grew up in Akron, was drafted by Cleveland, left to chase titles in Miami, only to return to Ohio to try to end one of the saddest streaks in sports (the 1964 Browns were the last team to win a title for the rock n roll capital of the world).

LeBron embraces being a pillar of the community, and in recent weeks, part of the community challenged that pledge, calling for him to sit out games in order to protest a tragic case.

The Tamir Rice incident can be described by a myriad of terrible adjectives, but the case follows a familiar script: a young unarmed black man was killed by the police.

Watch: Shooting of Tamir Rice video. (CNN Report): 

What makes this version of it so horrifying is that you can replace “man” with “child” and “killed” with “assassinated.” The video shows the act in all of its ugliness, clear as day.

However, a grand jury ultimately ruled that officer Tim Lohemann was not guilty. Lohemann was described by his previous police station as someone who “could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal.”

Policing is a difficult job with plenty of shades of gray, but given the words of other police officers and the video evidence, this particular incident seemed to be much more black and white.

The community called on LeBron to fight back against a force that has been operating since the dawn of humanity, and James’ response was underwhelming to many.

“To be honest, I haven’t really been on top of this issue,” LeBron James on the Tamir Rice case.

James said that he wasn’t really paying attention to the case:

“To be honest, I haven’t really been on top of this issue. So it’s hard for me to comment. I understand that any lives that [are] lost, what we want more than anything is prayer and the best for the family, for anyone. But for me to comment on the situation, I don’t have enough knowledge about it.”

Is it his responsibility to carry this burden? What could he even do?

We are entering a new era of athletic activism with the expansion of social media. Athletes have usurped the power of journalists to distribute and shape their message. LeBron has already taken advantage of this infrastructure to show solidarity with another young, black, innocent victim.

Photo Credit: LeBron James

The 2012 Miami HEAT protest the Trayvon Martin killing. Photo Credit: LeBron James

To determine what LeBron’s responsibility might be, a look back at the last century of this issue would be instructive.

Due to America’s history with slavery and its struggle with the ensuing fallout of a botched reconstruction and the Jim Crow era that followed, much of activism in sports has been centered on the fight for racial equality.

Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Althea Gibson, and many many many others went through literal and metaphorical trials throughout the Jim Crow era, as their natural resistance to oppression served as models of what the next generation of athletes could come to expect from those in control.

Even if the power structure didn’t change, the next generation of activists increased their share of power with the expansion of TV.

The 1964 NBA All Star Game was the first to be televised, and it almost never happened. Bill Russell helped to organize a walkout unless the owners agreed to recognize the players’ union. They proved to everyone in sports that it was possible to fight back against injustice, win, and keep their job.

Tommy Smith and John Carlos painted perhaps the most famous image of athletic activism, wearing black gloves, and raising their right fist in a show of solidarity while standing on the 1968 Olympic podium.

A grafitti version of the famous "black power" salute from the 1968 Olympic Games. Photo Credit: Newtown grafitti

A grafitti version of the famous “black power” salute from the 1968 Olympic Games.
Photo Credit: Newtown grafitti

As powerful as Smith and Carlos’ gesture was, its impact on society could not compare to the ordeal of The Greatest, or as he put it:

“Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.”

“Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.”

Muhammad Ali nearly sacrificed the greatest boxing career of all time in order to protest the Vietnam War after being drafted in 1966; refusing to fight by citing his devotion to Islam and its firm stance against wars of all kind. Ali minced no words on his view of the United States government:

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slavemasters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end…I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail. We’ve been in jail for four hundred years. “

Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title, boxing license, and his passport so he could not fight overseas, unable to box again until 1971.

His case would eventually go to the Supreme Court, and this battle against the government was the first thing that many came to learn about the Vietnam War. The man formerly known as Cassius Clay was a major influence on an era that irrevocably changed the American public’s relationship with our government.

It’s difficult to find another athlete from any era exercising their conscience at the risk of so much while having as large of an impact as he did.

The energy and frequency of high-profile protest decreased in the next era as more money flowed into sports, and everyone’s attitude could be summed up by the famous (reportedly true) Michael Jordan quote: “Republicans buy shoes too” and Charles Barkley’s line of “I am not a role model. Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

There were occasional bouts of activism, including one that serves as a cautionary tale for all players.

In 1992, Craig Hodges, Jordan’s championship teammate, wore a dashiki to the White House, presenting a letter to President George H. W. Bush pushing for the government to begin to seriously invest in the black community.

That season, Hodges shot 37.5% from deep (3.9% higher than league average), 94.1% from the free throw line, and committed just 22 turnovers in 56 games, yet he never played again as 27 teams all felt they had no room for the efficient 31-year-old shooting guard.

Fast forward to today’s conversation where people openly snicker at the thought of anyone hand writing a letter, and activism seems to be on the rise.

In this decade alone, Derrick Rose and countless other NBA players wore I Can’t Breathe shirts in the wake of the Eric Garner tragedy. The Clippers covered up their logo in protest of Donald Sterling.

The Phoenix Suns wore jerseys that said “Los Suns” in response to a draconian immigration bill passed by the state of Arizona.

The St. Louis Rams exited the pregame tunnel with their hands up in a show of solidarity with the Michael Brown protestors in Ferguson.

Andrew Hawkins wears a shirt in warm ups calling for justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford.

All of these players used the power of images and their celebrity to make a statement about the injustices they see in our society.

It’s not just symbolism that characterizes today’s protests either. Outspoken players like Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo have campaigned fervently in support of LGBT rights, the former claiming that it cost him his job in the NFL, and the latter even getting into a spat with a congressman over the topic.

All-World QB Aaron Rodgers aggressively raises awareness to try to end the decades long war in the Congo, and will even go out of his way to denounce discrimination in his home stadium.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell can see some parallels between today and Muhammad Ali’s era of activism:

“I grew up in the ’60s, where everybody was socially conscious. I believe in it. I’d be a hypocrite if I stood up here and told you any differently, because more than likely, some of those protests that Dr. King and some of the others that took a part in non-violent protests, is the reason why I’m standing here in front of you today.”

Athletes live privileged lives that are funded entirely by our adulation. Their celebrity exists only because the community deems it so.

Athletes live privileged lives that are funded entirely by our adulation. Their celebrity exists only because the community deems it so.

They have a moral obligation to give back to the rest of us, but because of the contentious nature of social change and existing power structures, activism is bad for business.

This balance is difficult to achieve, with athletes like Muhammad Ali and Craig Hodges serving as cautionary tales of how one’s career can be ripped away from them in an instant.

However, with the emergence of this new era of activism and the ability for athletes to control their own message, there is plenty of room for LeBron to advance his involvement in the Tamir Rice case, especially since so many of his contemporaries seem ready and eager to lead us into a new world.

Do you think LeBron should be more than just a player? Tell us in the comments below: 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

My Mom Was Killed By A Man With A Gun And It Didn’t Have To Happen

By Angie Bartelt

Raw emotion can be hard to humanize when seeing it on the faces of our leadership, especially during such a partisan time in America.

Time and time again we watch as these men and women deliver news to their people that something terrible has happened with straight faces.

Terrorism, outbreaks of deadly viruses, and mass shootings are reported in the world everyday and we watch with exhaustion- and often frustrations, as world leaders respond.

It is especially disconcerting when we do see our commander-in-chief, brought to tears on national television while professing the need for common sense gun regulation. President Obama spoke of the deaths of those worshipping in Charleston, the college students in Santa Barbara, and the first graders in Newtown.

As a fellow human being, I can clearly understand why the thought of twenty children being murdered under my watch and my administration could have, at least once, brought me to tears.

When we witness death from firearms everyday, it is hard to look at the problem and not want to hunt out a solution.

In 2001, my mother was murdered with a gun by her ex-husband on the front steps of our apartment.

She had been stalked and assaulted multiple times throughout the year prior. He would beat her to a pulp in front of myself, my brother, and our younger cousins. He broke in through our back door and held a knife to her throat, again in front of us children.

Even after exhausting the use of a restraining order and witness protection, she still wasn’t safe.

There was no hesitation when it came to her decision to alert the proper authorities when her life had been threatened, but the laws relating to domestic violence in 2001 failed her and my family.

According to a statistical report by the Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence in 2012, abused victims are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.

According to a statistical report by the Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence in 2012, abused victims are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.

I remember being a small child and seeing my stepfather’s home a few years before the murder.

He had many guns of all sizes, and it never crossed my adolescent brain to question why someone who, by that point, I knew was a gang member could have so many weapons at his disposal.

It was never a question to him, when he owned that many firearms and even a silencer, how he could most easily take my mother’s life.

In 2001, my mother’s murder was cut and dry. An ex-member of the Hells Angels who had access to illegal guns could surely hunt down a single mother in her last semester of college.

But in 2016, I hope that this can be prevented.

The data shows that prohibiting the purchases of a firearm by a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order is associated with a reduction in the number of intimate partner homicides.

In 2014, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB-1014, a bill to allow concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO).

The GVRO will temporarily prohibit the individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession.

With this as an example of common sense law, the lives of endangered Americans can be spared.

The statistics go on in regards to the all too-often problem of victims who are being threatened or violated by a partner, more often than not when a firearm is present.

Again, abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if their abuser owns a firearm.

Some more facts from the Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence:

“A recent survey of female domestic violence shelter residents in California found that more than one-third (36.7%) reported having been threatened or harmed with a firearm.

“In nearly two-thirds (64.5%) of the households that contained a firearm, the intimate partner had used the firearm against the victim, usually threatening to shoot or kill the victim.”

Shockingly, women who suffer from domestic violence are eight times more likely to be killed if there is a firearm in the home.

These women, like my mother, flee to protect themselves and their children, but that is not always the final solution.

Guns create a problem bigger than the need for self-defense. Whether or not the gun in the home is meant for protection, the truth is that instead of being used as a safety tool, guns are being used by abusers to harm or kill women more than they have saved them.

As a direct victim of the worst scenario of domestic violence, I urge you to fight for the lives of our families, friends, and fellow mankind.

As a direct victim of the worst scenario of domestic violence, I urge you to fight for the lives of our families, friends, and fellow mankind.

The most common weapon men use to kill women is a gun.

This is a fact. This is not a random quote that crossed the internet. It is something you won’t hear out of the mouths of any of the Republican presidential candidates, but this ruins, and often ends, lives.

This is not just my story. This is millions of families in our country, not just the ones we see on the news. This epidemic of gun violence used against women is a fight bigger than women rights.

This is about human rights and human lives.

The president’s tears should not be on the forefront of the debate as to why common sense gun regulation is necessary in 2016 America.

Instead, we need to be talking about the ways in which these kinds of regulations, from improving tracing of lost or stolen firearms to proper background checks, can work in a bipartisan legislation to make our country safer and protect our women and children.

As a person whose entire perspective on life was shattered by gun violence as a child, I urge anyone who sees common sense gun control as negative to reconsider.

Take a moment and think about what your life would have been like if a criminal with a gun took your mother’s life.

I urge you to think about the children in our country going through that at this very moment.


Angie Bartelt (bottom right) with her mother. Photo Credit: Angie Bartelt

According to the Brady Campaign, every day 31 people in this country are murdered with a gun.

That means that since my mother’s murder, 169,725 people have been murdered, with women being five times more likely the victim of this heinous crime.

I beg of anyone to reconsider their views on gun regulation for our mothers.

How many more people have to lose their mother like I did?

How many more people have to lose their sister, father, daughter, son, cousin, uncle, aunt, or friend?

How long will it be before it won’t be weird for me to say I lost my mother to gun violence because it has become normal? I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.

I hope you feel the same.

Cover Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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