MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Spring break on South Beach is officially underway, and as officials work to ensure residents and visitors stay safe over the next several weeks, their efforts has not prevented unruly behavior to spark along the crowded streets.
A Miami Beach Police blimp hovered above the beach off Ocean Drive on Saturday, keeping a bird’s-eye view on revelers hours after a brawl caught on cellphone video broke out on the sand.
The video captured the sound of fists landing on skin as several beachgoers punched each other, knocking down a blue umbrella.
7News cameras captured a heightened police presence in the aftermath of a fight in the area of Eighth Street and Ocean Drive, just before 6 p.m., Friday.
According to witnesses, a woman was punched and knocked to the ground.
Cellphone video captured a man punching victim, seen wearing a turquoise blue top and black pants. She is then seen landing on the ground unconscious.
Over a dozen police cars and a couple of prisoner transport vans responded to the scene of the altercation.
Cameras captured police officers and paramedics treating the woman for minor injuries. She was not transported.
Several feet away, police placed two men in a prisoner transport van, but it is unclear whether they were arrested.
7News cameras later captured Miami Beach Police Chief Police Dan Oates responding to the scene.
Early Friday morning, surveillance cameras at the Sherbrooke Hotel captured Miami Beach Police officers placing a handcuffed man in the back of a cruiser on Ninth Street, between Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive.
It was the tail end of a police pursuit that started when a group seen recording video of a woman twerking on top of a red convertible when, all of a sudden, they are seen sprinting toward Ocean Drive. Moments later, the group is seen charging back the way they came, with officers running after them.
Another angle shows one of the revelers and an officer falling to the ground. Several officers are then seen pinning the reveler to the ground and placing him in handcuffs.
Sherbrooke Hotel owner Mitch Novick also shot cellphone video of the takedown.
Officials declined to discuss details of any of these three incidents.
The Miami Beach Police have also taken to social media, posting video of a driver pouring alcohol into the cup of a woman sitting in the front passenger seat in another car along the eastbound lanes of the MacArthur Causeway.
This is the kind of unruly behavior that, authorities said, they want revelers to avoid.
Along Ocean Drive on Friday afternoon, a woman noted that there were larger crowds than on her previous visit.
“It’s been good. It’s better than last time, ’cause there’s more people,” she said.
“It’s been terrific; it’s been great,” said a man.
Police are expecting an even bigger turnout this weekend, and they have made the necessary preparations.
“Busy two weekends ahead. Miami Beach PD is ready,” said Miami Beach Police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez.
But not all locals are giddy about the expected increase in crowd sizes.
“It’s just been really crazy – the traffic, the wild people screaming,” said Natalia Montalbon, who works at a South Beach store. “Girls come in the store to dance and twerk.”
Few South Beach residents will dance over the traffic this all brings.
Ocean Drive has been closed off to vehicular traffic until Monday at 3 a.m. It’s the same story next Friday, when the iconic street will shut down to vehicular traffic at 7 a.m. and reopen the following Monday at 3 a.m.
“It will be pedestrian only. That’s to ensure a wider space for everyone that’s out on the beach to enjoy themselves,” said Rodriguez.
The major causeways on Miami Beach are also compromised over the next few weeks.
“Traffic along the MacArthur Causeway and Julia Tuttle Causeway, you should expect to see more traffic in the late afternoon and evening hours,” said Rodriguez.
On the sand, coolers, inflatable devices, tents, tables and similar structures will not be permitted. There’s also a limitation of live or amplified music being enforced.
“Come on vacation, don’t leave on probation,” said Rodriguez.
Words to live by to those caught on Sherbrooke Hotel’s surveillance cameras ambushing and repeatedly hitting a man along Ninth Street, between Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive, early Thursday morning.
The hopes for everyone is that this weekend’s partying stays crime-free.
“as long as we make sure we all stay together and stay in a group,” said a woman on Saturday afternoon.
“Yeah, as long as we have each other, we feel like we will be safe and secure,” said another woman, “and we’re not really worried about anything else.”
Friday night, barricades were placed along Ocean Drive in an effort to control crowd flow.
Police said they are currently unable to provide arrest totals. They hope that by Monday they will have weekend arrest totals, along with other statistics.
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