'We don't want spring break here': Miami Beach declares state of emergency after shootings

Miami Beach Fire Rescue transport a woman on a stretcher on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Fla., on March 17, 2022. (Chandan Khanna / AFP - Getty Images)

Miami Beach, Florida, declared a state of emergency over concerns about spring break crowds for the second year in a row after two shootings over the weekend.

Rowdy tourists have created an "unacceptable" atmosphere of fear in the city, Mayor Dan Gelber said Monday in a joint news conference with police and other local officials. Gelber said he couldn't allow people to come to the city only to worry about being shot.

"I know this might be happening all over the country, as I've seen on some national reports, but frankly that doesn't make anybody feel better right here," Gelber said. "Because this is our city, and we cannot allow it to descend into this kind of chaos and disorder."

Five bystanders were hospitalized in two random shootings over the weekend, NBC Miami reported.

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Police said they found two women with non-life-threatening injuries after they responded to reports of gunshots around 1 a.m. Monday. Three other people were injured Sunday morning in a shooting on Ocean Drive near 8th Street, NBC Miami reported.

Gelber told reporters that if he could stop the influx of spring break crowds, he would. But with revelers still streaming into the city, he said, authorities are being pushed to impose more extreme responses — including a curfew. The curfew is an attempt to push back against the reputation that Miami Beach is a "24-hour party city," Gelber said.

The midnight curfew will go into effect Thursday and remain in effect until 6 a.m. March 28, said City Manager Alina Hudak, who signed the order.

Gelber said: “We don’t want spring break here ... but they keep coming. People keep coming here in large numbers, such large numbers that it creates an almost impossible situation for our police.”

It is the second year in a row that Miami Beach authorities have declared a state of emergency tied to surges in spring break visitors.Last year, Gelber announced an 8 p.m. curfew for the South Beach neighborhood's entertainment district to control crowds and potential Covid-19 outbreaks. Violence spread through the city as crowds broke out into brawls.

Police made hundreds of arrests, prompting an extension of what was initially only a 72-hour state of emergency. Authorities made it clear that the blame did not lie solely with the typical college students associated with the holiday surge.

Cheap airfares, sunshine and a lack of masking or social distancing restrictions were associated with a new and more unruly kind of spring break last year.

It was a spring break "like no other," former City Manager Raul Aguila said at the time, blaming Florida's lax Covid rules for drawing all kinds of crowds to the area.