Miami Beach has declared a state of emergency as this city becomes overrun by rowdy and occasionally violent spring break partiers.
The state of emergency includes an 8:00 pm curfew throughout much of the city including Ocean Drive, a popular area for tourists and partygoers. The city has also entirely closed a number of roadways and restaurants.
"Miami Beach Interim City Manager Raul J. Aguila has declared a State of Emergency throughout the City in light of the Miami Beach Police Department's significant concerns relating to larger than expected spring break crowds," the city announced in a statement.
The city said that the state of emergency was implemented "to safeguard the public health, safety, and wellbeing of residents and visitors." It is expected to expire after 72 hours.
Police say that they have arrested "at least a dozen" people since the curfew was declared.
"Too many are coming, really, without the intention of following the rules, and the result has been a level of chaos and disorder that is just something more than we can endure," said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber in an interview with CNN.
"I love that this is a beautiful place, that people come here to gather and enjoy our weather and our beaches," he said. "But right now, it has become too challenging in the tourism industry to continue that way."
While some mainstream media reports have focused around the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, a major reason for the state of emergency was violence which has broken out across the city, including bar fights and a shooting on Friday evening.
Despite receiving help from external police departments, Miami Beach police say that they are experiencing difficulty in controlling crowds.
"We've done everything we can to try and mitigate the behavior we're seeing," said Miami Beach Police Chief Rick Clements. "Property was destroyed."
Clements noted that a crowd of hundreds had turned into a mob and began using furniture and other objects as weapons against each other.
SWAT teams were eventually called to the scene to help disperse rowdy crowds refusing to leave locked down areas.
Tourists seeking a sunny spring break have flocked to Florida, a tradition which takes place every year. 2021 is different, however, as many states remain locked down to combat the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, many Americans are travelling to Florida where Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has stood stringently against locking down the state.
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