Officials in the Miami Beach, Florida, area have an unusual problem: They want to deter tourism to their city after two shootings during spring break this year left two men dead.
At a city commission meeting on Monday, Mayor Dan Gelber (D) discussed ways to discourage American young people from flocking to Miami Beach for their spring break vacation.
“It’s not really a spring break at all,” Gelber explained. “It’s a sort of a street party that ends up with a lot of disorder or criminal behavior.”
Though spring break has long been associated with vices such as binge drinking, drug use, and sexual promiscuity, this March has been especially violent in Miami Beach. Police there made nearly 500 arrests, and more than half of those arrests were for felony charges. They also confiscated 105 firearms, though whether those firearms were illegal or used in the commission of a crime remains unclear.
Even worse, two men were shot and killed within a 72-hour period earlier this month. Around 10:40 p.m. on March 17, 21-year-old Jordan Idahosa of Georgia was gunned down in the South Beach neighborhood. The shooting caused crowds to panic, making the scene difficult for law enforcement to control. Then around 3:30 a.m. on March 19, an unidentified male was shot and killed in South Beach as well. Suspects have been arrested in connection to both incidents.
The spate of violence prompted local leaders to impose a curfew on March 19 and 20 and from March 23-27. The curfew began at 11:59 p.m. each evening and ended at 6 a.m. the following morning.
In addition to imposing a curfew, officials are now considering curtailing liquor sales next March as well. “If you get rid of the things that attract people here, namely liquor and places to go, that will help,” Gelber said.
Gelber has stated openly that his goal is to discourage spring break vacationers as much as possible. “We are doing everything we can to tell the world we don’t want you here,” Gelber said.
“We don’t ask for spring break in our city,” Gelber claimed. “We don’t want spring break in our city. It’s too rowdy, it’s too much disorder, and it’s too difficult to police.
“I also think we’ve become a destination for not simply people who are looking to have a foolish good time, but those who might have more sinister desires,” Gelber added. “We’ve attracted members of gangs, and we’ve obviously attracted people who bring guns because we seize them with regularity.”
“This is not an all-inclusive resort where people can do what they want,” Gelber said later. “We certainly aren’t Las Vegas or New Orleans.”
Officials already voted to impose a curfew in the area next March, though they have not finalized a decision about limiting liquor sales.
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