MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Faced with a pandemic and unruly crowds packing Miami Beach’s entertainment district, the city’s mayor said extended curfews and causeway closures are needed to keep the peace and people safe.
“Well, it feels in some ways like our city is a tinder right now. It’s not just about not wearing masks and physical distancing, it’s also some of the folks that are coming are coming with bad intention, so there’s been brawls and even gunplay. And when you have these levels of crowds, you can’t really manage, unless you have enormous policing and all that mixed creates a lot of peril and a lot of concern, and I do worry,” said Mayor Dan Gelber.
The mayor said right now the city is actually facing a triple threat.
“Right now we’re being asked to, you know, take all people who are coming. The governor has said, you know, ‘everything’s open, come on down.’ But the problem is that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. It’s not in our rearview mirror yet by any means, and it’s certainly not in my county and my city. So that’s a challenge, and with this many people coming, we have, it’s sort of a triple threat of too many crowds, too many people acting out, and a pandemic. And those three together just create a very challenging moment,” said Gelber.
Some people who live on Miami Beach said they’ve never seen a Spring Break like this.
John Walter, who lives in South Beach, said Sunday night when police pushed the crowds off Ocean Drive due to the new 8 p.m. curfew, a group moved a few blocks away to his neighborhood off Meridian Avenue.
“People were walking up and down the parked cars, he said. “My neighbor’s kids were screaming. When the police showed up, people started running towards our building. My neighbor and I sat on the floor and put our feet on the staircase to try and block them from coming in.”
Porscha Lee, who is visiting from Virginia, thinks the curfew is too early and hard on people who are following the rules.
“If you don’t get out early and you sleep in, you can’t do nothing,” she said.
But a group of friends from Detroit said they’re happy police are working to get the mayhem under control.
“If you don’t do that, people will be out here all day, all night, just enjoying themselves, so you have to have some type of control,” said Lairren Johnson.
To help control the crowd and prevent similar incidents Miami Beach police has increased their patrols and have implemented a no-tolerance policy. So far, more than a thousand arrests have been
City Manager Raul Aguila said more than half of those arrests are people from out of state. He added that many are coming “to engage in lawlessness and an anything-goes party attitude.”