Documentary Delves Into The Miami Riot of 1980

When Liberty Burns, a documentary that examines the events that led to the Miami Riot of 1980, will stream on Vimeo On Demand on June 19. 

Dudley Alexis’ film focuses on Arthur McDuffie, a 33-year-old Black insurance agent and former Marine who was beaten to death by several Dade County Public Safety Department officers in 1979 after he ran a red light on his motorcycle and a chase ensued. 

Five months later, an all-white jury in Tampa acquitted four officers, which sparked the riot. 

The documentary features interviews with McDuffie’s family and friends, retired police officers, eye witnesses, historians and local activists to bring awareness to race relations in Miami. 

“It is important never to forget our history,” said Jaie Laplante, executive director of the Miami Film Festival who is presenting the online screening. “It is from history that we learn how to do better and create a more equitable, fair and just society.”

When Liberty Burns was awarded the 2020 Knight Made in MIA Feature Film Award. It will be available to the public for $13 on Juneteenth, an annual holiday that commemorates the end of slavery. For more information, contact the MFF at (305) 237-3456 or visit