Miami Beach struggled to control large Miami Beach spring break crowds, with many people defying COVID-19 safety precautions. Multiple videos showing the crowds went viral, and you can see some of them throughout this article.
Photos also captured the scene of large and chaotic crowds including fights that broke out in the streets. Some of the videos have had more than 600,000 views on Twitter.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told CNN, “If you’re coming here to go crazy, go somewhere else. We don’t want you.” He also said, “It feels like a rock concert, wall-to-wall people over blocks and blocks.” Police tried to enforce an 8 p.m. curfew on Saturday night, March 20, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
The City Passed Emergency Measures to Deal With the Crowds
Miami Beach responded with a statement of emergency and curfew. “In response to the State of Emergency for the High Impact Period in the City of Miami Beach’s entertainment district, the Interim City Manager has implemented the following updated emergency measures, effective tonight through Monday, March 22 at 6 a.m.,” the site wrote in a statement.
It provided these provisions,
“Eastbound lanes on the MacArthur Causeway and Julia Tuttle Causeway shall be completely CLOSED to traffic from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m., except to City residents, guests of hotels in the City, and employees of business establishments in the City.”
“Eastbound lanes on the Venetian Causeway shall be completely CLOSED to traffic from 10 p.m. through 6 a.m., except to City residents.”
“Effective from 8 p.m. through 6 a.m. a curfew shall be imposed ONLY in the area bounded by 5 Street on the south, 16 Street on the north, Pennsylvania Avenue on the west, and Ocean Drive on the east (the “High Impact Zone”). Restaurants within the High Impact Zone shall be permitted to continue to operate for delivery services only. Pursuant to Section 26-33(a)(1) of the City Code, the curfew shall not apply to the provision of designated essential services, such as fire, police and hospital services, including the transportation of patients thereto, utility emergency repairs, emergency calls by physicians, and individuals making deliveries from restaurants.”
“From 8 p.m. through 6 a.m., Ocean Drive shall be CLOSED to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, except to City residents requiring access to or from their homes, guests of hotels requiring access to or from their hotels, and employees of business establishments. Other public roads within the High Impact Zone may be closed as deemed necessary by the Interim City Manager or Chief of Police.”
“From 7 p.m. through 6 a.m., all sidewalk café operations, including expanded outdoor restaurant seating, shall be SUSPENDED in the High Impact Zone, pursuant to the City’s High Impact Ordinance and City Commission Resolution No. 2021-31599. All sidewalk café operators are directed to stack or remove tables and chairs no later than 8 p.m. each night.”
Miami Beach police have made arrests and confiscated firearms. “#YourMBPD is working hard to keep our community safe. Since Friday, we have made over 50 arrests and confiscated 8 firearms. We’d like to thank all of our partner law enforcement agencies for their efforts and support,” they wrote on Twitter on March 21, 2021.
Police shared this video of them disbursing crowds.
According to the Miami Herald, the police response included “Pepper-spray balls, SWAT teams and a military-style vehicle.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is well-known for his defiance against greater COVID-19 precautions.
“I think officers felt threatened at the time,” the police chief said to the Miami Herald. “There has to be an element there of either the crowd fighting or coming at officers.”
The chief said the officers wouldn’t use pepper spray without feeling threatened by surging crowds, according to the newspaper.