After the crowds and rowdy behavior on South Beach, members from the Black community have been vocal in saying Miami Beach Police have been “too heavy handed” with college students.
The recent events have reignited a debate on how the city and police respond to Black tourists in Miami Beach.
The images of police officers in tactical gear and riding in SWAT vehicles along Ocean Drive clearly show a militarized presence on the beach.
Connie Kinnard, the Vice President of Multicultural Tourism & Development for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, admits those images aren’t what you want the world to see.
“You want to see the images of the beaches and people having fun and things like that," she said.
Kinnard’s job is to bring people to South Florida. But, this year has been unusual as Miami became a hot destination for post-COVID travel.
“There is this storm of a lot of people. We get and we understand there has to be some sort of structure," Kinnard added.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber says the city has tried different initiatives in the past.
“Spring breaks have been challenging, no matter the predominate race on spring break,” Gelber added.
“We have tried programing. In fact, last year in the middle of COVID, we had a corral area. We had a music stage with DJ Irie.”
The mayor is now pushing for his 12-point plan, hoping to give the city of Miami Beach a face lift.
"Our city has to decide what we want and what we want to embrace. I think we are willing to embrace the culture center," he said.
Gelber is working with the newly formed Black Affairs Advisory Committee, a group which advocates for social equity in the city. The Black Affairs Advisory Committee, which was just formed three months ago, is currently in talks with the mayor to come up with additional options for Memorial Day weekend.
Kinnard says her focus will remain the same, welcoming all tourist and encouraging travelers to see beyond Ocean Drive.
“There is a lot in Miami-Dade to see. We do have Miami Beach. We also have Overtown. We do have Little Haiti and Little Havana," she said.