MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Florida's famed South Beach is desperately seeking a new image.
Amid another out-of-control spring break, officials said it may be time to change the hip neighborhood's vibe as a law-breaking, party-all-night oasis.
An 8 p.m. curfew was enacted Saturday after street parties devolved into fights, stampedes and destruction of property.
Miami Beach police Chief Richard Clements described day after day of melees that had people fleeing for their lives before the city finally moved to shut things down.
Mayor Dan Gelber is waving off some criticism that the crowd was targeted because it has been mostly Black.
Daniella Pierre, president of the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP, told WPLG that the city's increased police presence and aggressive enforcement of curfew sends an unwelcoming message.
"What are you targeting? Is it crime or is it a culture?" she said.
Some city officials said they should have taken more stringent measures earlier instead of reacting in the middle of the chaos.
Tourists, meanwhile, claim the curfew has put a huge damper on the vacations they had been looking forward to and for which they paid good money.
South Florida has been a spring break hot spot in one of the few states fully open during the coronavirus pandemic.
"It has certainly felt like our city has become a tinder over the last few weeks," Gelber said.