MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber took the opportunity to set the record straight regarding controversial comments he made about reforming South Beach during a virtual conference call, as dozens of protesters took to the streets to make their voices heard about a proposed alcohol sales ban in the city.
7News cameras captured demonstrators as they chanted and held up signs that read “vote no on 2 a.m. ban,” Friday morning.
A woman held up a pink sign that read, “Get Dan out.”
The mayor, along with others, want a change in the entertainment district, but the discussion on how to go about it has some people upset.
“Stop crime, save jobs,” demonstrators chanted.
“We’re trying to save jobs, stop crime,” said protester James Marlo. “We know that we need more policing in Miami Beach.”
In audio leaked from the Sept. 13 online meeting, Gelber is heard saying, “I commit to you this, if you want something on the ballot, because it needs to be on the ballot, I’ll put it on the ballot.”
The virtual meeting followed a year of rampant crime in the area and an ongoing effort to roll back last call from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The mayor on Friday addressed protesters about his plans to reform the entertainment district.
“Most places are 2 a.m. places, most are,” said Gelber as protesters chanted behind him, “most here are 2 a.m. This is for a handful of operators who want a big drink, all-night-long business model that is not good for our city.”
During the virtual meeting, Gelber said, they were discussing the first part of his 12-point plan, specifically, point 3.
He pointed to what it says after each item on the plan: “ballot item if necessary.”
Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine also took part in the meeting.
“There are six commissioners. Two of them are going to be new coming on. We need to utilize whatever influence we have to push those six commissioners to follow the vision and the agenda of the mayor and the manager to make the city safer,” he said.
While protesters agreed crime in the area has gotten out of hand recently, they said changing closing time to 2 a.m. is not the answer.
“The right solution is to out police in every corner like Key West,” said Marlo.
“They want to renew the Ocean Drive, the new buildings for the mayor, all his friends,” said protester Marco Peres. “That’s what they want. Rich people [to] make this like Sunny Isles. This is not Sunny Isles, this is Miami Beach, and everybody knows in the world South Beach.”
“Our city cannot be held captive to a business model and profits of other people,” said Gelber.
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.