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Kaitlyn O'Connor / Gavel Media

Miami Dumps Spring Break

Spring break season is a long and relentless period for Miami city officials, police, and residents. After years of violence and unruly behavior from tourists, the City of Miami Beach is looking to sever its ties with spring break, and it appears that this divorce is uglier than anticipated.  

Last spring break season in March, Miami Beach police issued 7,190 traffic citations and made 488 arrests, including 230 felonies and two homicides, along with seizing more than 105 firearms. In 2021, they arrested more than 1,000 spring breakers. Miami Beach mayor Steven Meiner said, “The status quo and what we’ve seen in the last few years is just not acceptable.” Thus, police pleaded with DeSantis this year and he gifted Miami Beach, along with other Florida cities, with at least 140 state troopers ready to round up inebriated college students. 

Additionally, the city government introduced a campaign aimed at discouraging college students and other drunks from disrupting the city as they have done in the past. The “Spring Break Breakup” laws include new traffic plans that limit access to beaches, increased parking rates, curfews, security checkpoints, DUI details, and more. Other Florida cities like Panama City Beach and Daytona Beach are also implementing heightened security measures. A vocal supporter of these measures is unsurprisingly their governor Ron DeSantis. In front of a crowd of sheriffs, DeSantis stated, “What we don’t welcome is mayhem and people that want to wreak havoc on our communities.” He warned spring break goers, “You are going to pay the price and we will hold you accountable.” 

The city’s swift measures did keep citywide arrests down by 8% compared to this point of the year last year. And Florida officials’ objectives consider more than just rowdy partiers and tourists––they are also focused on illicit drugs and crimes beyond delinquency.

One of these initiatives is the “One Pill Can Kill” campaign led by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody which urges police officers to carry plenty of naloxone or Narcan. Moody said at a press conference in Daytona Beach, “Many equate spring break with drug use. We’ve got to stop that because we now know that so many illegal substances contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.” This should ease the minds of ordinary tourists and residents regarding criminal activity and make the city feel more safe overall. There is nothing wrong with authority enforcing safety and order, as that is exactly what it is designed to do. Former Miami Beach commissioner Michael Góngora explained, “Most of the people that come here and are arrested are actually residents of South Florida who aren’t spring breakers but want to be near the party, and unfortunately they’re the ones that bring weapons and drugs and create havoc in the city.” 

By turning the city into a military state, Miami Beach seems like the site of Project X where law and order are completely disintegrated by anarchy and madness. However, in reality, Miami is still a popular spring break destination and bigger harm seems to be done to the very group advocated by Florida lawmakers like DeSantis: small businesses. Many Miami businesses feel that without the tourists and spring breakers, the bustling and vibrant city turns into just another retirement community in Florida. Business owners expressed concerns that they’ll have no customers during spring break, which is one of the busiest seasons for Miami businesses. Three nightclubs sued the city over the curfew, though the judge ruled in favor of the city. One nightclub saw a half a million loss in revenue, showing the true damage these measures are causing. Imagine if Colorado ski towns restrict skiers and tourists from visiting in December and January –– there would be backlash and damage to businesses and no one would be happy. 

So, as a law-abiding citizen, I’d support any crackdowns against crime, even if that means limiting the parties and raves. Panama City Beach police chief Eusebio Talamantez said, “[Spring break] has evolved into shootings, mass riots, and homicide. And law and order does not go away just because you’re on spring break.” It’s true. Anyone can “let loose” within the boundaries of the law. It doesn’t matter whether they are just college students enjoying their spring vacation, because public intoxication and vandalism among other things are simply against the law. Yet, as a college student who would have loved a spring break in Miami as much as anyone else, the measures seem excessive. Restricting entire streets and beaches, curfews that affect businesses, and especially the $100 parking rates in some places are all unreasonable and defeat the purpose of a tourist hotspot. 

I would be deterred from visiting Miami during spring break, but I’m sure people are still visiting the city despite the “breakup.” So, although spring break season is almost over, it will be exciting to see what Florida officials resort to next March. 

Alex Cho
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