Miami Beach Adding More Security Measures for Spring Break

    07 March 2024

    The American city of Miami Beach, Florida is a popular destination for travelers during school break periods in spring. But, in the last three years, the area has dealt with high levels of violent crime during spring break.

    So, city officials are putting in place new security measures.

    The measures include parking restrictions for non-residents and closings of outdoor restaurants on busy weekends. The city has warned visitors to expect curfews, personal property searches at the beach, early beach closures, road security checkpoints, and arrests for drug possession and violence.

    Miami Beach park rangers watch over crowds Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
    Miami Beach park rangers watch over crowds Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

    Civil rights activists say the restrictions are an overreaction to large crowds of Black people. And, business owners in the city's famous South Beach neighborhood argue that the new measures will cause them financial loss during one of the busiest times of the year.

    Miami Beach has ordered such measures before, so the restrictions are not unfamiliar to the area. But, this is the first time the rules have been established ahead of the season.

    Steven Meiner is the mayor of Miami Beach. "The status quo and what we've seen in the last few years is just not acceptable," he said.

    Meiner said spring break crowds get out of control even with a strong police presence. He said the island city can only hold so many people. And the amount of people has often gone beyond what is safe.

    Local business owner, David Wallack, opposes the measures. He said the city has always been a place of celebration. And he argued that limits on the numbers of visitors will turn the city into a retirement community.

    Wallack and others have proposed holding a music festival during the third week of spring break, the season's busiest time. Supporters say such an event would help prevent the gathering of mobs.

    But, Meiner said the city has spent millions of dollars on musical performances and similar events in the past. He said such offerings did not prevent violence well. He said businesses suffer when violent crowds gather and force them to close. And, he said the people causing most of the problems are not spending money in the city anyway.

    Some civil rights supporters, however, believe the restrictions are racist.

    South Beach became popular among Black tourists about 20 years ago because of an event called Urban Beach Week. It takes place in late May during the Memorial Day holiday. Many locals have protested about violence and other crime connected to the event. Officials increased police presence during Memorial Day as a result.

    Stephen Hunter Johnson is an attorney and member of Miami-Dade's Black Affairs Advisory Board. He said city officials are only cracking down so hard because many of the visitors are Black.

    "Everybody loves this idea that they are free from the government intruding on them," Johnson said. "But amazingly, if the government intrudes on Black people, everyone's fine with it."

    But Meiner rejects the idea that the city's actions have anything to do with race.

    "I have a moral obligation to keep people safe, and right now, it is not safe," the mayor said.

    I'm Dan Novak.

    Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press.


    Words in This Story

    resident — n. one who lives in a place

    festival — n. an often regularly occurring program of events or entertainment

    status quo — n. the way things are now

    intrude — v. to bring or force in unasked

    obligation — n. something (as a promise or contract) that requires one to do something