AFP — The US city of Miami Beach prepared Thursday to impose a curfew to stem a wave of violence linked to the influx of revellers to Florida for the phenomenon known as spring break.
The decision came after two shootings that left five people injured in recent days.
Last year police also imposed a curfew after arresting more than 1,000 people over the course of six weeks for street fights and vandalism.
Every year in the spring, hordes of partygoers take over the Miami Beach waterfront for late-night drinking parties that can quickly turn ugly.
It is part of the collective college experience of generations of American students — but residents have increasingly opposed the social gatherings despite the contribution to the local economy.
The curfew, which covers the busiest area of the city including famous Ocean Drive, will last from midnight until 6:00 am Thursday through Monday.
A 49-year-old bartender named Raul — he did not want to give his last name — said he supports the decision to declare a curfew.
“This is not good for the business, but I agree with the authorities. Something needs to be done to guarantee public safety,” he told AFP.
On Ocean Drive, Ebony McFarland, 27, said she is not keen on spending another spring break under curfew — she endured it last year, too — but is not surprised by the measure.
“I definitely understand why they are having a curfew because it gets out of control. There are young people who come here and they don’t know how to act,” said McFarland, who lives in Atlanta, 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) to the north.
– Controversial measure –
The authorities announced the curfew on Monday after the shootings of last weekend.
On Wednesday city hall announced it was adding a ban on alcohol sales in liquor stores and supermarkets in the busiest parts of town from 6:00 pm until opening time the next day. This does not apply to bars and restaurants.
Marcus Gregory, a 24-year-old tourist from Houston, said the curfew is pointless.
“I don’t understand how this is going to help. I don’t feel that it’s going to stop anything from happening,” he said.
Stephen Hunter Johnson, a member of the Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board, said he sees race as a factor. He said authorities have chosen Miami Beach for the curfew because the city draws a lot of Black people.
“The only emergency is that Black people are on the Beach,” he told the Miami Herald.
Miami Beach resident John Lee, 27, sitting on a bench by the beach, said his town is no different than any other.
“I don’t think there is anything spectacular here. These things happen everywhere in the world every day. And they do nothing about it,” Lee said.