This weekend, after Miami Beach police chief Richard Clements said his officers became overwhelmed by massive crowds of spring breakers, the city declared a state of emergency and enacted a curfew in the Ocean Drive area most popular with tourists.
While Miami Beach has seen large spring-break crowds for several years now, city leaders have said more visitors seem to have traveled to South Beach this year owing to COVID-related restrictions in other parts of the country. At an emergency city commission meeting on Sunday, Mayor Dan Gelber said the sheer size of the crowds was jeopardizing public safety.
"It has felt, at times, that our city isn't safe, primarily in the evening," Gelber said. "The volume of people becomes at a level that's very hard to manage."
But the topic of spring-break management has become a political hot potato, particularly because many of the visitors coming to Miami Beach are young and Black. City leaders have a tough needle to thread, in terms of maintaining public safety while not engaging in overpolicing or other tactics that could be — and have been — criticized as racially motivated. So far, they haven't been able to do that.
All of this weekend's social-media commentary got us thinking: What's the best approach here? What should city leaders be doing? What pitfalls do they need to avoid?
If you've got ideas, we'd like to hear them.
Later this week Early next week, we'll compile the most interesting proposals and share them in another post.
So here's your chance: What would you do if you were in charge?
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