CNN: “Miami Beach Police fired pepper balls into crowds of partiers and arrested at least a dozen people late Saturday night as the city took extraordinary measures to crack down on spring breakers who officials have said are out of control.
“The aggressive enforcement actions came just hours after Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber declared a state of emergency and set an 8 p.m. curfew, saying the crowds that have descended on the city recently are ‘more than we can handle.’
“‘Too many are coming, really, without the intention of following the rules, and the result has been a level of chaos and disorder that is just something more than we can endure,” Gelber told CNN’s Ana Cabrera.
“On Saturday night, hundreds of mostly maskless people remained in the streets well after the 8 p.m. curfew. With sirens blaring, police opened fire with pepper balls — a chemical irritant similar to paint balls — into the crowd, causing a stampede of people fleeing.
“More than 1,000 people have been arrested in Miami Beach since February 3 as spring break travelers have come to the city, Miami Beach City Manager Raul Aguila said during an emergency commission meeting Sunday. Of those arrests, more than 350 have been felony arrests, he said.
“Both Aguila and Gelber said the spring break crowd is not typical and they don’t believe it’s mostly students traveling down.
“‘These are individuals coming into the city…to engage in lawlessness and an anything-goes party attitude,’ Aguila said.
“While the city had been dealing with large crowds, Aguila said, things changed Friday when thousands gathered on Ocean Drive. There were no special events planned, and none of the people were patronizing restaurants or establishments, he said.
“‘It looked like a rock concert — you couldn’t see pavement, you couldn’t see grass — all you could see was wall-to-wall people,’ he said.
“Gelber said the city is an appealing destination for travelers due to its good weather and open businesses, but it is still dealing with a pandemic. There are still 1,000 infections reported daily, and 50 to 100 people checking into hospitals each day in Dade County, Gelber said.}