Miami Beach took a lot of heat over its spring break curfew, which some saw as a crackdown against a largely African American crowd. The city’s administration said it was forced to take drastic action after five people were shot in a two-day period.
Now that Memorial Day weekend and its big crowds are coming up, the Miami-Dade County Back Affairs Advisory Board is trying to figure out how it can help make the holiday trouble-free.
At a meeting Wednesday, the board said it wants to help the City of Miami Beach avoid some of the problems it’s had with the inundation of large amounts of tourists by being proactive instead of reactive.
“We have to prepare for our young folks coming, they’re gonna come, we can’t act as if they’re surprised but we also have to provide programming for them so when they get here they have a wholesome, festive time and everybody is safe,” said board chair Pierre Rutledge.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the issue goes deeper than providing events for spring breakers or holiday revelers to attend.
“I think it’s really not fair to say that if we gave young people more to do, they wouldn’t bring the 135 weapons we seized, the caches of drugs and the fighting that happened, they’re unrelated issues, we expect people to abide by the rules and not break laws and that’s it,” Gelber said.
The Air and Sea Show is coming back on Memorial Day weekend. Gelber said that’s an example of programming everyone can enjoy.
“I appreciate people wanting to say, anyone, that we should do our best to make people feel welcome but of course, nobody has an excuse for breaking the law, nobody has an excuse for firing weapons on Ocean Drive,” Gelber said.
Gelber pointed out much of the criminal activity during spring break happened in full view of police officers.
One of the advisory board members suggested heavy police presence can backfire by making young people act out in defiance because they feel intimidated.