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Black community leaders question if race is playing role in increase of Miami Beach police activity during spring break

Crime crackdown in Miami Beach has some wondering if Black visitors are being targeted
Crime crackdown in Miami Beach has some wondering if Black visitors are being targeted

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Major changes have been announced in Miami Beach in an attempt to control rowdy spring break crowds.

After multiple attempts to disperse the crowds Saturday night, pepper balls were fired on South Beach as police tried enforcing an 8 p.m. curfew.

All causeways leading into Miami Beach will continue to be closed from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. with the exception of residents, workers and hotel guests.

On Sunday night, crowds again were packed in tight on Ocean Drive.

The party then moved to several side streets, where people were spotted dancing on top of cars, some of which were left with cracked windshields and other damage.

Champagne bottles were also left thrown on top of vehicles, along with plenty of other trash left throughout the area.

Some local Black leaders are critical of the City of Miami Beach because of how severe the crackdown has been on spring breakers. They believe it has to do with the race of many of the visitors.

Miami-Dade NAACP President Daniella Pierre argues the city’s amped up police presence and aggressive enforcement of curfew with little notice to visitors sends an unwelcoming message and only adds to tensions.

“They’re met with heavy police presence, right they’re met with street closures. They’re met with closed parking lots,” Pierre said. “What are you targeting, is it crime, or is it a culture?”

Miami Beach Police Chief Rick Clements told Local 10 News the environment this year is different, and crowds have been challenging officers trying to make arrests.

“Covid has had people pent up for quite a long time, well over a year,” he said. “I think they’re coming here to unwind a little bit, but I think they’re also pushing the gambit of obeying the rules.”

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the enforcement is about public safety.

“Just look at the videos,” Gelber said. “We’re not targeting a group of people. We’re targeting conduct.”

Videos in recent days have shown fights and damage to property, prompting some businesses to close down over safety concerns.

“We still have a right to go on Miami Beach and we still have a right to be treated fairly,” Pierre said.


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About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.