Police were forced to use pepper spray on several occasions to disperse Miami Beach crowds of spring breakers disregarding COVID safety measures.
Following several incidents between police and partyers, the city has decided to impose an emergency curfew. The decision comes after droves of beach goers and partyers flocked to Miami to enjoy the relatively loose COVID-restriction environment over the spring break, which led to chaos on the streets as police tried to manage the crowds.
According to Newsweek magazine, the City of Miami Beach announced that the nightly curfew will be in place for the next three weeks, in addition to high way shut-downs to control the spring break crowds. The emergency city commission determined to lift the curfew on April 12 – the official end of spring break. In the meantime, restaurants, cafes, beaches, and public areas are set to close.
Mayor Dan Gelber referred to the city as “under siege.” It all started after Miami Beach Police encountered an “aggressive” and “unruly” mob of spring breakers. The encounter ended with pepper spray and two officers taken to the hospital. At least 100 arrests were made over one weekend, a spokesperson from the city told CNN.
According to an arrest affidavit, more than 200 people were drinking, smoking, and blocking a busy area in South Beach when police responded to a report of an attack on a homeless person.
When the police arrived, some individuals in the crowd became aggressive, when 19-year-old James Harrison shouting “F—the police.” He apparently shoved an officer which led to his arrest and the police using pepper spray to keep bystanders from interfering.
Officials believe the crowds are the result of more than a year of lockdowns and COVID restrictions.
Gelber admitted at a press conference that the curfew was imposed to stop the spread of COVID. He said, “I love that this is a beautiful place, that people come here to gather and enjoy our weather and our beaches. But right now, it has become too challenging in the tourism industry to continue that way.”
Even with rising vaccinations and a decline in COVID cases, Anthony Fauci told Fox News, “If you look at the numbers, we’re not out of the woods yet,” and warned that there could be a spring break surge in cases.
According to local10 news, from February 5 to March 21, the police have made 1,050 arrests, including 398 felony offenses. At least 102 firearms have been seized, and there have been upwards of 11,000 traffic citations issued.