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More Than Half of Thousand Arrests in Florida Spring Break Chaos Were From Out of State

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City officials in Miami Beach said a majority of the 1,000 arrests that took place over the weekend involved people from outside of Florida, a figure that highlights the “siege” of spring break partiers who have taken over the streets and dismissed pandemic guidelines.

Miami Beach officials, including Mayor Dan Gelber and City Manager Raul J. Aguila, announced Sunday that the area’s 8 p.m. curfew and other restrictions will continue as four law enforcement agencies struggle to contain the public partying.

Aguila noted during a Sunday press conference that of the more than 1,000 arrests made since Friday, more than half of those people were out-of-state visitors who came to South Florida “to engage in lawlessness and an ‘anything goes’ party attitude.”

Social media was ablaze over the weekend with cellphone videos showing wild partying and at least one masked reveler declaring, “COVID’s over, baby!” That sentiment is not shared by local officials.

Aguila and police officials said an overwhelming majority of the out-of-state visitors who were arrested had not patronized local businesses that are in desperate need of tourism dollars amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On Saturday night, SWAT team officers were deployed in order to disperse tens of thousands of partiers openly drinking, fighting and dancing in the streets.

Due to the extension of the curfew—a rare act which Miami Beach Mayor Gelber announced Saturday afternoon—restaurants have been forced to stop outdoor seating entirely for the next three days. Gunshots were fired on South Beach on Saturday, Miami Police said, while noting that the city is actually being overrun by adults, and not the typical college-age spring breakers.

Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements said the chaos began last Monday when a group of vehicles blocked off one of the main roads in South Beach “and basically had an impromptu street party…how many more things are we going to allow to occur before we step in?” he asked reporters. Clements said lawless partiers trashed restaurants, including one which was “turned upside-down” amid the chaotic partying.

“Chairs were used as weapons,” the Miami Beach police chief added.

“We couldn’t go on any longer,” Clements said during Sunday’s press conference, about extending the city’s curfew. “I think this was the right decision.”

“When hundreds of people are running through the streets panicked, you realize that’s not something that a police force can control,” Mayor Gelber said during a commission meeting Sunday, according to the Miami Herald.

The Liberty Buzz reached out to the City of Miami Beach government offices Monday morning for additional details, but did not hear back in time for publication.

People gather while exiting the area as an 8 p.m. curfew goes into effect on March 21 in Miami Beach, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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