South Beach enacts curfew after spring break shootings, UM reacts

The City of Miami Beach announced a curfew effective March 24 through March 28 after two spring break shootings.
The City of Miami Beach announced a curfew effective March 24 through March 28 after two spring break shootings. Photo credit: Michael Mok

For some spring breakers flocking to South Beach this week, the party’s already over.

On Monday, March 21, the City of Miami Beach declared a state of emergency after two shootings that have taken five lives this past week. It will be extended through early next Monday morning.

The city will also be implementing a new curfew beginning at midnight to 6 a.m. this Thursday, March 24. It will also include an alcohol sale ban beginning at 6 p.m. the same day.

“Growing up in Miami-Dade, everyone thinks you go to Miami Beach — but you’re not raised to go there,” said Isabella Rodriguez, a Miami-native freshman studying microbiology and immunology.

“We usually steer clear just in general,” Rodriguez said. “There’s always long lines, crowds, the craziness is not new. The state of emergency and it getting that bad was surprising. It should never get that bad.”

After the chaos and mass arrests that ensued last spring break during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Beach commissioners and police planned for more chaos this March with the lifting of many COVID-19-related restrictions.

Similar actions took place last year after the influx of spring break tourists, including a curfew and alcohol sale ban.

Ocean Drive was just reopened to traffic in January after being closed for two years, meaning that the recent shootings happened only two months after this went into effect.

“Miami Beach I think has always been a fun place to go,” said Dr. Johayra Bouza, an adjunct professor in the psychology department who comes from Hialeah.

“But in the last couple of years it seems to have gotten really violent,” Bouza said. “I know Miami natives like myself wouldn’t dare go into Miami Beach during this time, especially with everything happening. Maybe increasing the police presence might be helpful.”

According to Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, who recently spoke in a news conference announcing the curfew, noted that there were over 371 officers assigned to the South Beach area to contain the crowds this past weekend.

Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements said during the same conference that there were also 10 officers within several feet of Saturday night’s shooting.

“I’m at my wit’s end trying to figure out how to be able to deal with this crowd with the numbers that are here and with what we are encountering during the policing of this particular event,” Clements said.

“We are so lucky there wasn’t a more significant loss of life associated with these events because they were random. The people that were injured as a result of this had nothing to do with any kind of confrontation at all but basically were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

In another post-pandemic reality, Miami has increasingly become one of the most popular destinations, with the housing market surpassing New York City as the most expensive in the country.

With more people coming to the Magic City, both tourists and new residents, some argue that the chaos in areas like South Beach — and potentially in other areas — may just increase.

“I didn’t even think about going to South Beach for spring break because sometimes it can get pretty weird there,” said Rahimeem Shirazee, a sophomore studying marketing and advertising who stayed in Miami during UM’s spring break.

“It could probably become an area that’s unsafe now and not a big tourist area,” Shirazee said. “Maybe that will just become an area that you’re not supposed to go to. There’s probably a different area of Miami that will become more prominent as things die down in South Beach.”