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Miami Beach declares state of emergency as mayor considers ending Spring Break

By Adam Schrader,


March 26 (UPI) -- Officials in Miami Beach have declared a state of emergency as "massive crowds" of Spring Breakers descend on the Florida city causing mayhem, including the shooting deaths of two people.
People spend time at the beach during spring break in Miami Beach, Florida, in March 2022. Spring break takes place March through April as thousands of people flood South Florida beaches. File Photo by Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA-EFE

Alina Hudak, the city manager, signed the emergency declaration Wednesday which has allowed officials to impose measures "to protect the health and safety of persons and property." The emergency declaration is in effect through Monday.

It came after Miami Beach issued a weekend-long curfew earlier this month, which the city chose not to extend.

Hudak noted in the declaration that Miami Beach, located on 15 square miles of a small barrier island just east of Miami, has a population of just 90,000 residents but has become an "international renowned tourist destination" that has dealt with "unruly crowd control issues" since March 2021.

In this Spring Break season, Miami Beach has already recorded four arrests for aggravated assault and three for aggravated battery, according to the emergency declaration. There have also been seven arrests for robbery, 20 arrests for carrying a concealed firearm and 37 felony drug arrests.

At least 12 people have been arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer, as police attempt to maintain order in the small city.

Hudak said in the emergency declaration that the first deadly shooting occurred around 10:45 p.m. on March 17 on Ocean Drive while police officers stationed just half a block away. The second occurred just two days later around 3 a.m., just a few blocks away.

"Officers were able to arrive on the scene within a matter of seconds, but nevertheless were unable to prevent the shootings," Hudak wrote in the emergency declaration.

"If each of the shootings had occurred only moments earlier or later, police officers in the area could have been caught in cross-fire. Despite the vast and highly-visible police officer presence in the city, criminals and their illegal behavior continue undeterred."

Miami Beach officials have implemented measures to prevent the sale of alcohol for off-premises consumption through Monday, according to a resolution from Mayor Dan Gelber and the city council.

Gelber said in a statement Saturday that "enhanced safety measures" would be in effect through Sunday night, including sobriety checkpoints and mobile license plate readers placed in the area.

The mayor told The Guardian that the city is considering ending Spring Break after a group of local bar and nightclub owners convinced a majority of city council members to block his proposal for another midnight curfew this past weekend, similar to curfew imposed earlier this month.

"I don't feel like some of them are particularly good members of the community," Gelber said of the bar owners in his remarks to The Guardian.

"I appreciate our hospitality industry, they invest in our community, but to listen to them like we're gonna ruin them by asking to have a curfew for three nights is absurd to me."

Gelber said that he plans to meet with business leaders, law enforcement and city officials to better plan how the city can address problems during the Spring Break season.

"But when you get later in the night and people are drinking and maybe getting high there's another whole set of issues, and I don't know that we could program that," Gelber said.

"We just have to close up businesses. I think that if you really want to end spring break you have to have a curfew so people will go somewhere else."

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