Dozens arrested on South Beach during Memorial Day weekend amid heavy police presence

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach Police have arrested nearly 60 people to date as Day 2 of Memorial Beach weekend festivities continued to bring thousands of revelers to South Beach.

Ocean Drive was buzzing with activity, Saturday afternoon, and police were in position to ensure this Memorial Day weekend runs safely and smoothly.

Some rain on Saturday afternoon did not prevent revelers from across the country from enjoying some of the biggest names in hip-hop entertainment. 7News spoke with visitors from Chicago, Georgia, Missouri, Massachusetts and Texas, among others.

Law enforcement officials are taking extra steps to keep everyone safe this year, including assigning extra uniformed and undercover officers. “Our officers are out here not only in uniform patrol, but we have undercover officers,” said Miami Beach Police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez. “We don’t want anyone to break the law — things like narcotics, things like drinking in public — anything like that.”

According to officials, there were 200 arrests made during last year’s Memorial Day weekend in Miami. The turnout is expected to be larger this year, officials said, which may lead to more arrests. “I think it’s going to be a bad one,” said Brent Mason, who’s visiting from Australia. “For sure, I think the police are gonna have a hard time.”

Police made 39 arrests on Friday, bringing the total to 57 for the weekend to date. “We may be a handful of numbers ahead of last year, but last year was lower than the year before, so we’re on pace with last year,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates.

Early Friday morning, crews put up barricades and road blocks along Ocean Drive between Fifth and 15th streets, blocking off vehicles until Monday morning. More than 200,000 people are expected at the annual event, and officials are making sure that those participating are acting responsibly.

Throughout the weekend, police are enforcing no inflatable devices, coolers, tents or amplified music on the beach between 15th Street to South Pointe Park. “Come out, have a great time, but please be responsible,” Rodriguez said.

West Palm Beach resident Steven Malaret, who came to Ocean Drive with his son, Saturday afternoon, praised authorities for keeping the peace. “It is safe out here, Just look at the amount of cops that are out here,” he said.

Police officers are planning on making themselves visible to every attendee this weekend in light of Thursday morning’s drive-by shooting that led to the arrest of the alleged shooter. Neighboring law enforcement agencies are assisting to make sure everything runs smoothly throughout the holiday weekend.

Police, however, aren’t the only ones preparing for the crowds. Local businesses and restaurants have adjusted their hours of operation to accommodate the festivities, like the 11th Street Diner, which won’t be open during its usual hours.

While some businesses will be closing early, many bars, clubs and restaurants will be welcoming late crowds until the early hours of the morning, especially nightclubs that will be filled with live performances. Saturday afternoon, 7News cameras captured a woman dancing to the music as she sat at a restaurant on Ocean Drive.

While some people are here for the hip-hop, others are here for the parties. “Mainly the yacht party. It’s his first time. He doesn’t know what he’s getting into yet,” said tourist Monique Cooper with her friend. “He’s all calm now, but he doesn’t know what’s coming!”

Ocean Drive will remain closed for vehicular traffic until Tuesday, May 31 at 7 a.m.

Saturday afternoon, Beach-bound traffic was bumper to bumper. “People stuck in traffic, there’s nowhere to park. It creates a big problem,” said Miami Beach resident Nick Junuzzi.

Along with Ocean Drive, Miami Beach has released a list of numerous roads that will be affected by the weekend:

  • Collins Avenue will be one-way northbound nightly 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. (Friday – Monday). No street parking will be allowed on Collins Avenue between 5 and 17 streets as those lanes will be used to extended pedestrian pathways.
  • Washington Avenue will be one-way southbound nightly 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. (Friday – Monday). Access to east/west streets between 5 and 16 streets will be restricted.
    Alleys must be maintained clear of vehicles at all times and will be strictly enforced.
  • Causeways: License Plate Readers will be deployed, along with DUI checkpoints.
  • Valet Ramp Relocations: Ocean Drive to the 100 blocks of 7, 9, 12 and 14 streets; Collins Avenue to the 200 blocks of 9, 10, 12 and 13 streets; and Washington Avenue to the 600 and 1200 blocks of Washington Avenue.
  • If you’re having trouble finding ways in and around the city, Miami-Dade Transit, the South Beach Local, the Miami Beach Trolley and water taxi will be available.

For those driving this weekend, all city-owned parking lots and garages will have normal operations with the exception of South Pointe Park, Nikki Beach and the 46 Street lots ($25 for visitors and $6 for residents).

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