Overnight, police struggled to control the large groups of students on spring break and crowds of adults looking to blow off steam. Both groups are in the city to enjoy the Florida warm weather and the relaxed COVID rules.
Monday morning there was still a state of emergency in Miami Beach after a weekend of chaos.
Police deployed a SWAT team on Saturday to help manage the mayhem as hordes of revelers descended on the popular Florida city, forcing local officials to take extreme measures.
Police used pepper balls to break up the crowd, instituted an 8:00 p.m. curfew, and shut down bridges and causeways onto the island of Miami Beach.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said, “Over the last month it’s been an escalating issue. This is not a spring break issue for us. We don’t see it as a spring break issue for us.”
Gelber explained, “It’s a violence issue, it’s a public safety issue, it’s having too many people in a small area.”
But the local crackdowns also sparking controversy. Miami Beach Black Affairs Advisory Committee member Glendon Hall said, “I don’t think that SWAT truck would have been here if it wasn’t for people of color, and for black folks in the area.”
Miami Beach police said, “Our officers police criminal behavior, not people.”
Not all are college students. The mayor said Florida’s lax protocols are enticing tourists.
The fear: some visitors will get infected and take coronavirus home.
The city of Miami Beach determined they will keep this curfew in effect for the next three weeks.