As college students flock to the closest beach to celebrate a short break from their studies, they need to exercise caution. Once the alcohol starts to flow in excessive quantities, an occasional argument is bound to break out. Sometimes, the arguments lead to physical confrontations and, sometimes, one of the angry participants is packing a weapon. Miami Beach has already witnessed five people taking bullets in two separate shooting incidents.
Doing the only thing they could think of to stop the madness, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber teamed up with City Manager Alina Hudak, and much to the heartache of the party-goers, they’re getting set to impose a curfew for South Beach.
This is the second straight year this has had to be done. South Beach has developed a reputation for violence throughout the year and, as such, authorities attempted to clean it up as much as they could before the horde of unruly students arrived. Over the past four weeks, they’ve confiscated over 100 guns and a few officers were wounded during the process.
Assigning 371 police officers to the small area of town wasn’t enough to prevent the five people from being shot. Gelber put things in perspective by saying, “We can’t endure anymore. We just simply can’t. This isn’t your father or your mother’s spring break. This is something wholly different.”
Residents in the area have urged city officials to do more but they’ve run into a twofold problem. Every time they try to crack down on violence or excessive drinking, they get accused, or in some cases sued, for racism, classism, and/or bad business practices.
During last year’s spring break, the police arrested over 1,000 people for violating the 8 p.m. curfew when they rolled up in military-style vehicles and began firing rubber bullets at the predominantly Black crowd. Black activists had a hay-day with the authorities who developed intense hemorrhoids over the matter.
To think that anything will change from last year’s major ruckus is foolish. Consider how these are college students whose party nights don’t generally get started until at least 10 p.m. There’s gonna be plenty of trouble going down when the curfew goes into effect later this week.
At this point, it appears as though making their presence well known is the best defense the police officers have without bringing condemnation upon themselves. Activists are lurking in nearby shadows waiting for the slightest opportunity to jump, while local residents stay home behind locked doors afraid to even walk their pets.
“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,” said Gerber. “Because this is our city, and we cannot allow it to descend into this kind of chaos and disorder.”
He was quick to add, “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.”
Spring break ain’t what it used to be, but then again, what is? If you have kids in college, or you’re a student yourself, it’s advisable for them or you to bypass South Beach this year. A secluded cabin in the woods might be a much better idea. Such a shame.