Mayoral candidate under fire over tweet
COCONUT GROVE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Commissioner Francis Suarez was criticized Thursday after using Twitter for a campaign ad that used an image of Israel Hernandez, the 18-year-old who was Tased by Miami Beach Police after they caught him spraying graffiti on private property.
"I was basically expressing solidarity with the family," Suarez said.
The image also included a message of condolence to the Hernandez family, as well as shots towards Mayor Tomas Regalado and Regalado's views of using violence to fight violence. "The mayor has implemented a policy of violence with violence and that led to a Department of Justice investigation," Suarez said.
"That comment has been taken out of context," Regalado countered. "It was made during the gang wars."
Suarez's ad is bringing up questions as to whether using Hernandez's death for a campaign messaging is appropriate. "That's crossing the line in terms of political campaign," Regalado said.
The Miami Fraternal Order of Police feel Suarez is undermining police work. "Francis Suarez needs to pick a side," Miami Police Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of the FOP, said. "He's either on the side of the criminals, or he's on the side of law enforcement, and what the officer did in the Miami Beach incident is something that we do routinely, all the time, 24 hours a day here in the City of Miami. Tasers have been utilized more than two million times worldwide."
In a statement Thursday, the union called Hernandez's graffiti a crime, not art.
This incident is coming up just one day after Suarez fired his commission aide over what she posted on Twitter. One of the tweets mentioned that one of his constituents should look into receiving a lobotomy.
Suarez says the focus on his social media is a politically-driven distraction. "They want to distract from my perspective, from a failed policy of the mayor to fight violence with violence, which, like I've said, has increased crime, has increased the murder rate in our city, and has led to the untimely death of many of our citizens."
Hernandez' family did not want to comment, but Hernandez' sister said they are a non-political family and did not authorize the use of the image.
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