Hundreds of spring breakers have been arrested in Miami Beach over the past several days as authorities crack down on unruly partyers, including some who were filmed dancing on police cruisers and mobbing streets in defiance of COVID-19 safety protocols.
Police have made “hundreds and hundreds of arrests,” Mayor Dan Gelber told local media, and he promised “a terrible time” for other lawbreakers.
The roundup followed a disturbing Friday night when police used pepper balls to disperse “very large crowds” that were throwing bottles at officers near Ocean Drive in South Beach, the police department said on Twitter.
Cellphone video showed officers body-slamming a man on a sidewalk during the mayhem. The man, identified by CBS Miami as 19-year-old James Harrison, from New York, was charged with two counts of battery on a police officer. Two officers were injured while attempting to detain the man and taken to a hospital, police said.
The revelries and arrests continued into the weekend. Police on Saturday reported they stopped a vehicle with a woman riding on top of it, leading to citations.
Police didn’t respond to HuffPost’s request for updated arrest figures.
“We don’t want the altercations, we don’t want the arrests, but if we have to, we will, because we have to have some measure of control over our environment,” Gelber told TV station 7News on Saturday.
Gelber, in a separate interview with CBS Miami, said law enforcement is operating with a no-tolerance policy.
“We’ve got too many people coming, we’ve got too many people acting out and we have COVID at the same time, so it’s a triple threat,” Gelber said. “If you’re coming here because you think anything goes, you’re going to have a terrible time. We’re going to arrest you.”
Florida does not have a mask mandate and its Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, in September lifted all coronavirus restrictions on restaurants and other businesses. He also banned cities and counties from fining people who do not observe social distance or wear face masks. Miami Beach had been enforcing such penalties.
The city last week extended a state of emergency declaration related to the coronavirus pandemic through Wednesday. This declaration imposes a midnight curfew.
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