Spring break crowds thinned out Sunday in South Beach as police enforced a midnight curfew following two deadly shootings earlier in the weekend. But Ocean Drive still got rowdy as the curfew approached.
Under overcast skies and with cooler air chilling the atmosphere Sunday afternoon, people walking along Ocean Drive said they were troubled by the killings because most people who came to South Beach were just there to party and have a good time.
“We don’t want any problems,” said a 22-year-old from Atlanta, Jamirah, who only gave her first name. The Albany State University student said she felt safe with so many police present.
Raymond Smith, 24, handed out cards promoting a party at King of Diamonds, a strip club outside Medley. Visiting from Atlanta, he called Ocean Drive “the strip” and said it was a good place to take in the music and talk to girls.
“It’s lit, man,” he said. “It’s delightful.”
As the evening began, crowds swelled and took the turn up to the streets. At one point, people climbed on top of a car that was trying to turn off Ocean Drive — some danced; others body slammed onto the hood.
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Some nerves appeared frayed as the night wore on. Several people ran away from Ocean Drive toward the beach at least five times after dark, each time spurred by a loud noise or someone else sprinting.
Police arrested a man who flashed a knife on Washington Avenue. They handcuffed another who took down a “no parking” sign at Eighth Street and Ocean Drive.
Many businesses closed early and the city’s spring break programming concluded before sundown. Under the city’s state of emergency, which applied only until 6 a.m. Monday but could be reissued for next weekend, businesses were not allowed to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption after 6 p.m.
Starting around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, police played an announcement of the midnight curfew over a loudspeaker, asking people to leave. Cops on ATVs flashed lights and blared sirens as they rode through the crowd.
Around 11 p.m., police formed a phalanx on ATVs and rode north on Ocean Drive, clearing the street.
“It’s lame,” one man could be heard saying as police rolled through. “We’re just trying to have a good time.”
It appeared most spring break revelers had cleared the streets without incident as police enforced the curfew and cold rain fell late Sunday.
Here is what it looked like on Ocean Drive.
Miami Herald staff writer Aaron Leibowitz contributed to this report.