Miami Beach declares state of emergency amid uncontrollable crowds

Miami Beach declares state of emergency amid uncontrollable crowds

Miami Beach is no stranger to the uncontrollable spring break crowds.

A crowd of revelers flocking to Miami Beach, Florida for spring break got so out of hand that authorities declared a state of emergency on Saturday and imposed a curfew meant to cancel the party.

The move marks the second year in a row that fun has been curtailed at the popular spring break destination – last March because the pandemic was only accelerating and this year due to unruly and destructive crowds.

Authorities said on Saturday that visitors were to get off the streets and that restaurants would close at 8 p.m. in South Beach, the epicenter of the city’s nightlife, following an increase in violence and vandalism. last days.

“It sucks a bit,” said John Perez, a college student from Texas who drank beers with a group of friends on the sand, despite efforts by police to prevent alcohol consumption on the beach.

In addition to the curfew, the three bridges that connect the island of Miami Beach to the mainland of Miami will now be closed to traffic from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Only residents, workers and hotel guests will have access.

“It’s been so much fun here, you know like we got the hot weather, you got the beach,” said Perez, 22.

An aerial photo released by police on Saturday night showed the city’s main street, Ocean Drive, empty just two hours after the curfew went into effect.

Miami Beach is no stranger to the out-of-control spring break crowds, but this year, with around 13% of U.S. residents vaccinated, the atmosphere is particularly festive and the illusion that the pandemic is now under control is pervasive.

“Go get your shot so you can come here and have a good time like us because we got the shot baby,” Jalen Rob, another student from Texas, told AFP.

Another man, with his face painted like the Joker, stood on top of a car shouting “Covid is over, baby!” waving an American flag, in a video posted to Twitter by filmmaker Billy Corben.

‘Like a rock concert’

Acting city manager Raul Aguila said the city’s curfew measures were “all related to public safety”.

He described the huge crowds that had gathered on Ocean Drive as “looking like a rock concert.” You couldn’t see the sidewalk and you couldn’t see the grass ”.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said on Saturday announcing the curfew that “the volume is clearly higher than in previous years.”

“I think that’s partly because there are very few places open anywhere else in the country, or they’re too cold – or they’re not open and they’re too cold,” he said. -he declares.

In the past few days, viral videos have emerged showing brawls in restaurants that have caused serious damage in addition to causing diners to flee without paying expensive bills, according to local press.

Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements said he was concerned the situation was getting unmanageable.

Thursday night, “we had an issue where hundreds of people were running at one point. Tables and chairs were thrown away and used as weapons,” he said.

He added that the police had hoped it would be a one-time event, but “last night we had three of these situations and we had a young woman who was injured trying to escape the crowds.”

One of the city’s most iconic spots, The Clevelander South Beach, announced on Friday it was closing its restaurants and bars and would only keep the hotel running.

“We can’t continue to be lucky. We have to do some things that are going to alleviate these circumstances,” Clements said.