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Miami Beach orders emergency curfew for unruly crowds after two fatal weekend shootings


The city of Miami Beach implements a curfew after two shootings in the area, in what is slowly becoming an annual state of emergency over unruly crowds.

For the past three years, the city of Miami Beach enacted emergency measures in March as holiday crowds attract “dangerous and illegal behavior.” A curfew was announced by the city manager on Sunday, starting at 11:59 p.m. until 6 a.m. Monday morning.

This time of year is widely associated with spring break crowds, although city officials have said in recent years that visitors to Miami Beach include people who are not the students normally associated with the term ” spring breakers”.

A special committee meeting will be held on Monday afternoon to discuss adopting similar measures next weekend, the city said.

The Miami Beach Police Department responded to two fatal shootings over the weekend. The first happened Friday night at 10:41 p.m. near 7 Street and Ocean Drive, where two men were found with gunshot wounds.

One man died after being taken to hospital and the other was in critical condition. Police announced on Saturday that a suspect had been taken into custody.

A second shooting occurred Sunday morning at 3:29 a.m., this time closer to 11th Street and Ocean Drive, police said. A suspect was arrested but a man was killed in the incident.

Both shootings appear to be isolated, unrelated incidents, according to police.

In March 2021, unruly mobs during spring break were blamed for fights that had to be broken up by police and triggered the first state of emergency.

Around the same weekend in March last year, Miami Beach implemented its second state of emergency after five bystanders were hospitalized in two random shootings. Mayor Dan Gelber held a press conference calling the rowdy behavior of tourists “unacceptable”.

“We don’t want spring break here…but they keep coming,” Gelber said last year. “People continue to come here in large numbers, so many that it creates an almost impossible situation for our police.”

Gelber noted in 2021 that he does not believe the influx of visitors is typical spring break demographics, as the tourists causing the problems are not the female university students normally associated with the holiday week.

At the time, he said he thought Florida’s lack of Covid-19 restrictions was likely a major factor in bringing people to the area.

Sunday’s state of emergency order did not explicitly refer to spring break as the cause of the “unruly crowds”, but it is about the same date as orders from the previous two years.

Essential services and food delivery will still be allowed to operate after curfew hours on Sunday, but businesses must admit their last guests with enough time for them to leave before curfew.

Alcohol sales will be prohibited for off-premises consumption in the curfew area after 6 p.m., per the city’s ordinance.

The city has warned that anyone violating the curfew order faces arrest and criminal prosecution.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.