Officials in Miami Beach, Florida, made waves this week by declaring a temporary state of emergency and implementing a strict citywide curfew in attempt to curb out-of-control spring break violence.
What are the details?
During a press conference Tuesday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber condemned the rash of senseless violence that erupted in South Beach’s entertainment district over the weekend.
“If you want to see what a very frustrated and angry mayor looks like, you’re looking at him,” Gelber said. “Our city is well past its endpoint. We can’t endure this any more.”
Since the start of spring break just a few short days ago, at least five people have been shot, nine police officers have been injured, and more than 100 guns have been confiscated by law enforcement authorities, WSVN-TV reported.
In a tweet Sunday, Miami Beach police offered a snippet of the ongoing chaos in the city.
“The party needs to end,” police declared in the post.
Gelber and other city officials said the 12 a.m. curfew will go into effect Thursday morning and will continue throughout the weekend. It will reportedly cover areas south of 23rd Street down to South Pointe Drive, from the Atlantic Ocean to Biscayne Bay.
“This isn’t your mother and father’s spring break. This is something wholly different,” Gelber explained on Tuesday.
Later in the press conference, he said, “We haven’t been able to figure out how to stop spring break from coming. I say that all the time. We don’t want spring break here, but they keep coming.”
“It’s very hard to deter idiots and criminals from doing things,” he added.
Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements backed the city’s move, noting that this year’s violence has been especially egregious.
“What I saw this year made me … almost cringe. You see that gunfire was almost 10 feet from an officer who was on an ATV, to dive off the ATV and get behind it, because he didn’t know where the gunfire was coming from. That’s a problem,” Clements said, adding, “We have to do something.”
Miami Beach Declares State Of Emergency Over Spring Break Violence
Some visitors also told WSVN they are afraid to go downtown and won’t be coming back to the area in future years.
“I was sitting on Ocean, and we got tumbled by a stampede, and they were shooting like, three times in the same hour. It was crazy,” one visitor said, adding, “I don’t feel safe. Once it hits 6 o’clock I’m outta there.”
“It was just a shock to hear gunshots and all the commotion outside the window,” another recalled.
Two separate shooting incidents occurred in the beach town over the weekend, sending massive crowds of people running down packed streets.
The emergency declaration was not issued without pushback, however. Some detractors even decried the move as racist.
“The only emergency is that black people are on the Beach,” Stephen Hunter Johnson, a member of Miami-Dade’s Black Advisory Board, charged, according to the Miami Herald. “I don’t understand how this town has been doing spring break for at least 25 years and can’t figure it out.”
Democratic state lawmaker Michael Grieco, a former Miami Beach commissioner, complained the declaration was far too heavy-handed, saying, “The state of emergency is an abuse of governmental power, and it scares the crap out of me.”