MIAMI — After five people were shot over the weekend during spring break, the city of Miami Beach will declare a state of emergency and place the South Beach area under a midnight curfew beginning Thursday.

City Manager Alina Hudak announced the curfew Monday at a press conference with elected officials and senior police leaders, after the shootings in two separate incidents on Ocean Drive.

The curfew, which will encompass all of South Beach starting at 23rd Street, will take place just after midnight on Thursday and end Monday at 6 a.m. Because Hudak can only issue emergency orders over 72-hour periods, she said she will ask the City Commission to extend the curfew for the following weekend as well.

She also said a city-organized spring break concert scheduled for Saturday would be postponed in an abundance of caution.

“There are cowards out there toting guns,” Hudak said of the situation in South Beach. The potential for further violence and concerns about overcrowding led to Monday’s decision, she said.

The curfew comes short of the extreme measures the city took in 2021 to control spring break crowds at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the city imposed an 8 p.m. curfew and closed its major causeways to traffic coming into the city.


Hudak said the city cannot legally close its causeways and would not comment on how the city was able to do it last year.

Police Chief Richard Clements said his department is working with the Florida Department of Transportation to create a traffic blockade on Fifth Street near the southern entrance to the city. After midnight, only residents or visitors to the city with hotel reservations or other business in the city will be allowed to enter through Fifth Street.

Police will be roaming around the curfew zone enforcing the midnight restriction and there will be signs informing the public of the curfew, Clements said.

Mayor Dan Gelber said the City Commission would meet Tuesday to vote on extending the curfew. He said despite beefed-up policing over the weekend, five people were shot.

“If you want to see what a very frustrated and angry mayor is you’re looking at it,” he said.

Gelber said he hopes the curfew will keep hard-partying tourists from causing disorder in South Beach.


He acknowledged the challenges of preventing random gun violence.

“It’s very hard to deter idiots and criminals from doing things,” he said.

The announcement comes as Miami Beach’s new approach in dealing with the massive and at-times rowdy crowds, seemed to be achieving its desired effect: The street corner fights and confrontations with police that lit up social media and embarrassed city leaders in recent years have mostly been absent.

So far this year, there have been a couple of shootings, but no deaths and no life-threatening injuries. Arrests are down from last year, but Clements said more guns – 100 total – were confiscated in the last four weeks than in the same time period last year.

Some city leaders, business owners and a few of the tens of thousands of visitors who flocked to South Beach this month say that the tension and problems that plagued past spring breaks have so far been kept at a distance. But the two shootings over the weekend jolted the community and led to conversations about what else could be done to limit violence during spring break.

“If you take away those two shootings, which of course are major, then it was vastly improved over 2021,” said resident-activist Matthew Gultanoff.


Longtime Ocean Drive business owner David Wallack, of Mango’s Tropical Cafe, agreed that spring break had improved but he said there was a “rough crowd” in town over the weekend. He said the police presence in South Beach over the weekend was great, but he said the shooting is a symptom of the gun culture in America.

“It’s not the businesses fault, it’s not the police’s fault, it’s not anyone’s fault, it’s a cultural phenomenon of the age we live in,” he said.

Police have taken to social media to illustrate the dangers they’re facing.

The Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police posted a 10-second video on Twitter Sunday that it said showed a dangerous situation, with hundreds of jubilant, dancing spring breakers with lit up phones surrounding and boxing in police on a pair of golf carts.

“The video is a snippet of the crowds and dangers we face. Officers are EXHAUSTED. The party needs to end. City officials must take immediate and firm action to ensure the safety of officers and residents,” the tweet read.

Over the weekend, four Miami Beach police officers were injured in a pair of accidents involving golf carts. In one instance, a Mustang ran into a golf cart on Ocean Drive, which has been closed to traffic, and three officers were hurt. Another was injured on a cart on the beach at Lummus Park. None of them were hurt seriously.


“It’s spring break. We have all of the country coming to us. We’re a tourist mecca. We understand that,” said Paul Ozaeta, president of Miami Beach’s Fraternal Order of Police. “The thing is, at the end of the day, we need (to hire) more cops. Given the environment to cops I’m concerned the officers won’t want to stay here. We’re not butlers with badges, we’re public servants.”

Ozaeta was referring to a statement last month in which senior police leadership announced a more hands-off approach with visitors, saying police would offer a “concierge-type” service as opposed to the “zero tolerance” strategy some city leaders and residents demanded in the past.

In February, the city that once warned spring breakers to “Come on Vacation, Don’t leave on Probation,” unveiled a less antagonistic marketing campaign.

Under pressure from Black leaders around Miami-Dade who argued crowds in recent years took to the streets because there wasn’t much of anything for them to do after dark, the city spent $3 million on a concert series and other events. It also changed its marketing campaign to “Take Care of Our City.”

This year’s relative success was shattered just after midnight Saturday when gunshots rang out and police found two people shot near Ocean Drive and Eighth Street. A third victim showed up on his own at the hospital. Police said the injuries were non-life threatening. Then just past midnight Sunday two more people were injured – also not seriously – when gunfire broke out a block away at Seventh Street and Ocean.

Police chased and caught a man who they said threw a 9 mm handgun into some shrubbery. The man told police he fired in self-defense. Derrick Antonio Mitchell, 19, was charged with three weapons violations, carrying a concealed firearm, tampering with physical evidence and possession of an altered firearm.

Ozaeta said the biggest problem facing officers on the street this year is logistics – there just aren’t enough police and the city needs to hire more. He realizes more police probably wouldn’t have stopped the shootings. But he also acknowledges that being understaffed sometimes puts officers in more dangerous situations and there are instances where police will hold off making arrests if they feel uncomfortable and are badly outnumbered.

“It creates more dangerous situations,” he said. “We just can’t afford to lose two more guys – even if that means just the paperwork that would keep them off the street for a few hours. And we can’t deal properly with the crowds. It’s basically a matter of logistics.”

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