Spring break violence is at an all-time high for the third year running in Miami Beach, despite measures to curb drinking and roaming.
Miami Beach is the most popular single destination for spring break college kids. Every year, tens of thousands of young people arrive in south Florida to drink and party. Formerly just one week, it now encompasses most of a month, from mid-March to early April, and includes the Ultra Music Festival, which adds its own multitudes.
Last year and this year, the areas around Miami Beach declared a state of emergency due to the crowds. Police were stationed throughout the island city, some in mobile watch-towers so they could oversee crowded streets. Large activities were set up to encourage non-drinking, things like sober dances and volleyball tournaments. And large clubs are already prohibited from selling alcohol after 2 a.m.
But this year, two fatal shootings and major property destruction due to unruly crowds has led city officials to set a curfew in the midst of the country’s largest party. 322 arrests have happened since February 27th, including more than 70 confiscated firearms. Spring break 2022 saw over 1000 arrests.
“The volume of people in our city, the unruly nature of too many and the presence of guns has created a peril that cannot go unchecked,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said in a video statement issued Sunday. “It is clear that even an unprecedented police presence could not prevent these incidents from occurring.”
Gelber added: “We don’t ask for spring break in our city. We don’t want spring break in our city.”
The curfew compels liquor stores around the worst areas to close early at 6 p.m. It also requires visitors to the city to leave all businesses before midnight, except for patrons of hotels and emergency services.
According to local business owners, the curfew on clubs and liquor stores is placing blame unfairly.
“What was going on out in the streets was not customers of businesses,” one owner said. “The majority of all those people in the street, they’re bringing their own stuff to the party. They don’t have the money to pay $20 a drink.”
Photo: PeskyMonkey / Shutterstock