People protesting Ocean Drive liquor ban march to City Hall

Miami Beach residents to vote on ordinance Nov. 7

By Erica Rakow - Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - A large group of people gathered on Lincoln Road Tuesday morning and marched to City Hall in protest of a proposed ordinance that would ban liquor sales on Ocean Drive after 2 a.m.

"Every single one of these people work in the venues," said Ceci Velasco, executive director of the Ocean Drive Association. "Every single one of these people have families that will be affected. It's not right, it's not fair and it shouldn't be done."

The booze battle started last June after two people were shot and killed over Memorial Day weekend.

The mayor supported the rollback to curb crime.

"We know there is a lot of crime on Ocean Drive, and it's really happening because of, really, between 2 and 5 a.m. when things are going in the wrong direction. So the people have to decide: Do you want to use all our police resources there from 2 to 5 a.m., protecting the profits of a few operators, or do you want those police in your neighborhoods, protecting your homes and your schools?" Levine said. 

The union representing police officers who fight the crime said the measure won't fix the crime problem.

"It's a further example of the administration not speaking to the officers that are on the ground in order to get the best way to deal with the situation and to really resolve the issue," said Kevin Millan, vice president of the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police.

People who work in the bars, restaurants and hotels on Ocean Drive fear that if the ordinance is passed, Miami Beach's tourism industry will be destroyed.

"A lot of people come just because we are open until 5 a.m. You know, a lot of these corporate groups, bachelorette parties, all these birthdays -- they want us to stay open until 5 a.m.," said Mango's employee Leydis Castillo. 

Miami Beach residents will vote on the issue Nov. 7.
 

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