FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – The curfew in Miami Beach, which has been sparked by brawls, shootings, property destruction and dangerous incidents, could extend to the end of the spring break.
Miami Beach commissars on Sunday unanimously voted to extend the city council’s curfew until at least April 12, effectively ending the spring break hotspot in one of several states completely open during the epidemic.
Swat teams of at least four other agencies և law enforcement officers tried to contain the mob, but the confrontation continued in the days before Miami Beach officials began curfews, forcing Ocean Drive restaurants to suspend all outdoor seating.
Mayor Raul Agila said many people from other states were coming “to run illegally, for the attitude of the ‘everything goes’ party.” He said that many do not sponsor businesses that are in dire need of travel dollars, instead thousands simply gather on the streets.
Miami Beach Police say more than 1,000 people have been arrested and about 80 weapons confiscated during this spring break. Police Chief Richard Clementz said the unrest escalated on Monday when an unusually large crowd blocked Ocean Drive “and, in fact, had an impromptu street party.” Fighting broke out on Thursday, causing the dangerous mark of people fleeing for safety.
According to him, the parties got out of control on Friday night – a restaurant “turned around” in a rage, its “chairs were used as weapons”, broken glass covered the floor. The iconic Clevelander South Beach bar had to stop all food and beverage activities. Police said shots were fired and a young woman was hospitalized with a badly amputated leg.
“How many more things are we going to allow before we invade?” Clemens said during the meeting on Sunday. He defended the city curfew, which closes three passages to South Beach, trying to keep everyone except residents and staff from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the island Thursday through Sunday. “I think this was the right decision,” said the chief.
On Saturday night, the crowd was zealous but mostly unrestrained, refusing to comply with the curfew, which came into effect just four hours ago when officers in bulletproof vests fired pepper spray balls to disperse the party. On Sunday evening, a crowd came out again, again opposing the curfew.
The situation escalated into racial tensions. Some white residents called the predominantly black tourist crowd “animals” or “bandits” on social media.
“We have to realize that we are definitely fighting a racist scandal,” Dean Connolly Graham, a member of the Miami Beach Advisory Committee, told the Miami Herald.
But Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber has denied allegations that anyone was targeted for his race.
“When hundreds of people run into the streets in panic, you realize that this is not what the police force can control,” he told a commission meeting on Sunday.
Very few in the crowd wore masks, as required by the Miami Beach decision, which was made in the hope of curbing the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 33,000 people in Florida.
Republican Gov. Ron Desantis insists Florida has no state mask rules, capacity restrictions or other public health restrictions that it considers to keep the tourism economy afloat. “If you look at South Florida now, this place is booming,” Desantis said last month. “Los Angeles is not flourishing. “New York City is not flourishing.”
Miami’s tourism industry has simply spent $ 5 million on its biggest national advertising campaign in 20 years, seeking a return after billions of dollars were lost to the epidemic, canceling last spring vacation and forcing beaches in Sunshine to close.
At the same time, Miami Beach banned alcohol from the beach, as well as the sale of alcohol after 10 pm, and even sent text messages to tourists: “Take your vacation responsibly or get arrested.”
Several commissioners said South Beach needed a new marketing campaign to transform its city-party image. They cited several arrests in Fort Lauderdale that raised hotel prices and facilitated a “family” spring break.
None of them fit the people who hoped to finally get rid of the epidemic.
“I just feel like it’s not really fair,” said Heather Price, a NIC 6 tourist. “People have paid a lot of money to get out of here, only to not be able to do what they want.”