Miami Beach Police were back in action with pepper balls on Saturday night in the wake of spring-breakers violating an 8 p.m. curfew.
The continued influx of revelers – especially those who refuse to follow a few basic rules – has led to “chaos and disorder,” according to Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
Police fired the pepper balls as part of a city crackdown on partiers, arresting at least 12 people.
Mayor Gelber declared a state of emergency and said the crowds were “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.
The crowds virtually ignored the curfew and very few observed mask guidelines.
When police opened fire with the pepper balls, which carry a chemical irritant, a large group of people turned and ran, video from CNN affiliate WPLG shows.
“Officers began dispersing crowds at 8 p.m. and ultimately achieved a satisfactory level of compliance,” police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez told CNN.
The 8 p.m. curfew and road closures in the city’s entertainment district will be in effect until Tuesday, Gelber said at a news conference Saturday.
Florida is now, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis, an “oasis of freedom” during the pandemic and is attracting huge numbers to its restriction-free beaches and nightlife.
The mayor wants a quieter immediate future.
“If you’re coming here because you’ve been pent up and you want to let loose, you think anything goes, please don’t come here,” Gelber told CNN. “We have extra police everywhere, we’re going to arrest people, and we have been. We’re going to keep order.
“If you’re coming here to go crazy, go somewhere else. We don’t want you.”