Posted on March 7, 2024

Large Black Crowds Prompted Spring Break Restrictions in Miami, Civil Rights Advocates Say

Associated Press, March 5, 2024

Miami Beach is trying to break up with spring break, but it’s not yet clear whether spring break will take the hint.

After three consecutive years of spring break violence, Miami Beach officials are implementing monthlong security measures aimed at curbing the chaos, including parking restrictions for non-residents and closing sidewalk cafes on busy weekends. The city has warned visitors to expect curfews, bag searches at the beach, early beach closures, DUI checkpoints and arrests for drug possession and violence.

But business owners in the city’s world-famous South Beach neighborhood are now concerned that they’ll lose money during one of the busiest times of the year, and civil rights advocates say the restrictions are an overreaction to large Black crowds.

Many of the city’s restrictions aren’t new, but in past years, they were instituted as emergency measures during the unofficial holiday — not measures put in place ahead of time.

“The status quo and what we’ve seen in the last few years is just not acceptable, not tolerable,” Miami Beach Mayor Steven Meiner said.

Meiner said crowds have become unmanageable despite a robust police presence. He said the city, which is situated on a barrier island across the bay from Miami, can only hold so many people, and that capacity has often exceeded what’s safe for both visitors and residents during the break.


Some civil rights advocates, however, believe the restrictions are racially motivated.

South Beach became popular among Black tourists about two decades ago as promoters organized Urban Beach Week during the Memorial Day weekend. Many locals have complained about violence and other crime associated with the event, which led to an increased police presence. But the event’s continued popularity correlates to a bump in Black tourism throughout the year.

Stephen Hunter Johnson, an attorney and member of Miami-Dade’s Black Affairs Advisory Board, said city officials are only cracking down so hard because many of the visitors are Black.

“Everybody loves this idea that they are free from their government intruding on them,” Johnson said. “But amazingly, if the government intrudes on Black people, everyone’s fine with it.”