My wife and I were somewhat surprised initially by media concerns about spring break in Florida. Governor DeSantis has been resistant to lockdowns, forced face mask wearing and many public health recommendations. He has encouraged gathering and an open economy.
Let’s take a moment to remember history. Civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. led thousands of people in the third Selma Civil Rights March on March 21, 1965 — 56 years ago.
Florida’s governor seems to be more in line with Sweden and their “herd immunity” strategy than that of states like California. Looking at statistics today, Florida and California are nearly equal battling COVID19 deaths: 152 per 100,000 in Florida: 146 per 100,000 in California.
California governor Gavin Newsom faces possible recall due to the frustration residents express due to the strict lockdowns and other restrictions. Florida has been more welcoming. As a result, tens of thousands of youngsters have trekked to the state’s beach communities to celebrate spring break.
Miami Beach Extends Curfews and Emergency Action
This onslaught of visitors has frightened local officials. They voted Sunday to extend an 8pm curfew and emergency powers for an additional three weeks to help control unruly and mostly maskless crowds.
Some White residents referred to the crowd of predominantly Black tourists as “animals” or “thugs” on social media. “We have to realize that we are definitely fighting an undertone of racism,” DeAnne Connolly Graham, a member of Miami Beach’s Black Affairs Advisory Committee, told the Miami Herald.
Mayor Dan Gelber told the city commission that all manner of out-of-town and out-of-state visitors, not just college students, were filling the streets since Governor DeSantis called the state an “oasis of freedom” from coronavirus restrictions in late February.
“It looked like a rock concert. All you could see was wall to wall people.”Interim City Manager Raul Aguila
This was to be expected. Miami’s tourism arm spent $5 million on its biggest national advertising campaign in 20 years. The region was hoping to see an economic rebound after billions of dollars were lost during the pandemic, which forced closure of last year’s spring break and many beaches across the Sunshine State.
Interim City Manager Raul Aguila claimed in fear, “This is not a typical spring break crowd. … These are individuals coming into the city … to engage in lawlessness and anything goes party attitude.” Anything goes seems to be a common theme during spring break festivals.
There have been reports of “multiple fights, brawls, melees, and other public displays and disturbances of the peace.” Police said they arrested more than 50 people and confiscated eight firearms since Friday.
In contrast, video clips and photos posted on social media highlighted thousands of spring breakers, many eager to simply let off steam after a year of COVID19 lockdowns, packed together and dancing in the streets.
Dancing in the streets? Why the emergency?
Miami Beach locals complained, “Don’t blame us!” They pointed the finger at out-of-towners for the chaos. Many locals joined in agreement.
“Don’t blame Miami for those crowds on South Beach. Nobody who’s from Miami goes to South Beach.”Silas P. Silas, Twitter
Concerns over public safety prompted businesses to close their doors voluntarily during what would normally be among their most profitable days of the year and after months of hardship caused by the pandemic.
Police Chief Richard Clements said the trouble intensified Monday, when an unusually large crowd blocked Ocean Drive “and basically had an impromptu street party.” Oh, no … a street party!
Manager Aguila explained the real concern: crowds aren’t eating at restaurants or patronizing businesses generating badly needed tourism dollars. People are merely congregating by the thousands in the street.
They’re mostly Black Americans. White and Hispanic Americans seem to have a problem with this.
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Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”