Residents sign letter for Surfside mayor to step down

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Controversy continues in a Miami-Dade County city after a commission meeting ended in middle fingers and accusations of discrimination.

Now, a letter signed by dozens of residents is calling for Mayor Charles Burkett to resign immediately stating that he does not understand the town and is out of touch with what’s happening.

Commission Eliana Salzhauer threw both middle fingers in the air after Mayor Charles Burkett repeatedly cut off her microphone during a Zoom meeting of the city's commission last week.

“He had an opportunity to lead and he chose to (get) in the way of doing the right thing,” Robert Lisman said. Lisman, a Surfside resident, said he voted for the mayor but now added his name to the list of those asking Burkett to step down.

 In an interview with Local 10, Burkett talked about Salzhauer’s display. “The hand gesture that went around the world? It was absolutely shocking to many people.”

The debate started over a symbolic resolution to condemn hate against minority groups due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Burkett wanted to include Evangelical Christians among those who have been victimized.

“It was about hate and blame. It was was about people feeling shamed for having caused the virus. I would argue that Christians were widely blamed,” Burkett told Local 10.

Lisman retorted: “There’s no FBI warning that says there’s a rise in hate crimes against Evangelicals.”

Lisman told Local 10 that the mayor has taken to attacks on him and others on social media for their questioning. Adding to the confusion, the mayor issued a statement on the death of George Floyd. Some residents were confused by his wording, which urges people to come up with contributions to “make” Black Lives Matter.

"It says what it says, and we do need to make lives—black lives matter," Burkett told Local 10.

We asked: “Do you feel that they currently don’t?”

“I currently feel that they’re badly neglected,” Burkett said.

The mayor has introduced a new resolution supporting broad national reforms he says are in the names of Black Lives Matter. His critics point out that the Black Lives Matter movement is not even mentioned in the item.

They say they feel it is time that the city returns to working on city business.

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