Miami Beach shooting imposes emergency curfew on spring break

“That internal barometer told me something was going to happen,” Novick said.

He began recording in the first minutes of Sunday morning as several men walked alongside a blue sports car. Police sirens sounded and officers on ATVs passed. Then shots started firing and crowds rushed through a park filled with palm trees shrouded in lights. “I took cover,” Novick said, keep filming the scene takes place during another chaotic spring break.

The shooting Novick witnessed was the first of two over the weekend, leaving five innocent people injured, city leaders said. In Miami Beach, some officials want the party to end for good, even if it comes at the expense of local businesses.

“We don’t ask for spring break, we don’t promote it, we don’t encourage it; we just suffer it,” Mayor Dan Gelber said during a Monday press conference. “And frankly, it’s not something we want to endure.”

The weekend violence prompted officials in the island town to declare a state of emergency over the March holiday period for the second year in a row, instituting a midnight curfew and slashing sales hours by retail alcohol in stores.

At a meeting on Tuesday, a city commissioner suggested paying businesses to preemptively close. Another asked why they couldn’t declare the island full and refuse visitors.

From Thursday to Monday morning, the curfew begins at 11:59 p.m. and lasts until 6:00 a.m., limiting clubs, bars and restaurants which generally remain open until 5:00 a.m. In the curfew zone, which includes all of South Beach, the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption will be prohibited after 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Meanwhile, officials’ labored comments about a spring break crowd that includes many black tourists have again drawn criticism from black community leaders.

“Didn’t you hear? Blacks on the beach, it’s a natural disaster! Miami-Dade County Black Affairs Advisory Council Member Stephen Hunter Johnson wrote in a tweet. Michael Grieco, a Democrat in the Florida House of Representatives, tweeted that the midnight curfew was an example of “embarrassing government overreach”.

Miami Beach experienced a similar meltdown during spring break last year, when crowds flocked to the city after the pandemic brought the festivities to a premature end in 2020. Citing “overwhelming” numbers of visitors in 2021, a At a time when many other destinations still had coronavirus restrictions in place, authorities established an 8 p.m. curfew in the entertainment district and restricted access to roadways that allow traffic on the island. Video footage showed officers firing pepper balls as they enforced curfew.

“It’s almost like we’re repeating ourselves,” Novick said of this year’s spring break, noting that 2020 was also chaotic.

City Manager Alina Hudak said she spent six months trying to get a different result this year. At a news conference, she said the city has beefed up its parking enforcement, code enforcement and police presence, coordinating with other departments in the area to boost coverage.

And the city launched a series of weekly concerts in March featuring Wilson Phillips, Alanis Morissette and Juanes to attract an older demographic than the seaside revelers. This weekend’s event, a concert by Bernadette Peters , has been postponed due to the state of emergency.

Hudak said there had been “several safe weekends” for spring breakers – until the crowd grew and gunfire broke out.

“Our city is an island with limited capacity,” she said. “It was not built for those types of crowds and it is not possible to accommodate the volumes of people we saw this weekend in our public park, on our public streets and on our sidewalks.”

Police Chief Rick Clements said Monday that 100 guns were seized in the first four weeks of spring break this year, up from 85 during the same period in 2021. Nine officers were injured on duty, although none of the injuries were “extremely serious”. seriously,” he said.

Between mid-February and Sunday, 618 people were arrested across the city, Miami Beach Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said in an email. He said more than half of those arrested were from Miami-Dade County, which means the city can’t just point the finger at tourists.

The city did not extend the curfew beyond this weekend. And we don’t know what will change next year. Novick said on Tuesday his business was already taking a hit: He said the hotel had received three guest cancellations in 12 hours.

Novick said the curfew could prevent some bad behavior, but he’s disappointed City are playing defense again.

“They’ve had all year for the past few years to do something, and now they’re just reacting,” he said.

Joshua Wallack, COO of the company that owns Mango’s Tropical Cafe South Beach, said in an interview that March should be the best time of year for hospitality businesses: there’s perfect weather, tons of tourists and flowing dollars. It is “sacrilege”, he said, that people in the industry dread this time of year.

“These shootings were random acts of some idiots that ruined it for thousands of people having a good time,” he said. “When that happens, you have to throw your hands up and say, ‘The party’s over for everyone.'”

While the hours of his businesses will be reduced due to the curfew, Wallack said he supports efforts to make residents feel safe.

“It has to be understood in the long term,” he said.

Gelber, the mayor, said he hopes the city can successfully send out a new message for spring break: This is not the place to let loose.

“Our hope is that we can, through this kind of message, tell the world, ‘Hey, if you want to come to spring break, go somewhere else,'” he said. “I heard there are wonderful all-inclusives elsewhere. Go ahead, don’t come here. We don’t want this noisy mob that intends to do whatever it wants.

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