MIAMI, Fla. – Miami Beach wants to turn down the volume in the city’s South Beach party neighborhood, citing increasingly raucous crowds, public drinking and growing violence, but efforts to curb the carousing have raised complaints about racism, classism and business practices along one of the nation’s most glamorous waterfronts.
The 10-block stretch of Ocean Drive known for art deco hotels, restaurants and bars is sandwiched between two areas that cater to more affluent tourists. The tension has been bubbling for years as party crowds grew from a few weekends a year into a year-round presence. The situation worsened during the pandemic when city officials closed the main drag to vehicles and allowed restaurants to offer more outdoor seating, which invited a carnival atmosphere on the street.
More than 1,000 people were arrested during this year’s spring break, when the city imposed a rare 8 p.m. curfew. Authorities sent military style vehicles to disperse predominantly Black crowds with rubber bullets, prompting criticism from Black activists and spawning a parody on “Saturday Night Live.”
“We cannot accept this as our normal,” Mayor Dan Gelber said. “What we have called an entertainment district has become an incredible magnet for crime and disorder, and whatever it provides in revenue is just not worth the heartache.”
Last month, the city increased the number of police and code-enforcement officials covering the neighborhood to their largest number in history. The mayor called it a stop-gap measure, saying the city cannot afford to increase the number of police permanently.
His long-term proposal would rebrand the blocks known as the entertainment district by hosting higher-end concerts and fairs, focusing on family-friendly events and marketing the city’s often-overlooked but impressive museums and symphony. He also wants to limit loud music and halt alcohol sales at 2 a.m.
The area has waxed and waned over many decades. It fell into decline after a midcentury heyday, but TV shows like “Miami Vice” made it cool again in the 1980s, and supermodels gathered at fashion designer Gianni Versace’s oceanfront estate in the 1990s. More recently, rap lyrics have immortalized South Beach.
The Ocean Drive closure, which remains in effect as the city maps out its future, has wrought financial havoc on hotels and restaurants.
Tom Glassie, longtime owner of the Avalon Hotel, has been meeting with city officials and residents for the past two years, wrestling with “what do we want to be when we grow up.”
“The nightlife took over. We were the best nightlife,” he said. “There was nothing wrong with that, but it just got overbranded” and eclipsed arts and culture.
The mayor’s proposal also seeks to increase office and residential space and cut the number of bars and clubs.
Zoning regulations allow both residential and commercial spaces, but no buildings can be taller than five levels, which deters investors who would rather build luxury high-rises. In addition, the art deco facades that provide glamorous backdrops have historic building protections, making the cost of renovations prohibitive for some developers.
Instead, low-end bars and hookah lounges flourish while blocks away, several high-end New York restaurateurs have opened new businesses.
Other businesses like the legendary Clevelander hotel and bar and the Mango’s nightclub complain that they have been caught in the crosshairs and unfairly lumped in with bars and nightclubs that cause trouble.
“We’re tired of being made into the bad guy, to continue to blame a 30-year-old business that is one of the largest taxpayers in the city and one of the largest employers,” said Joshua Wallack, chief operating officer of Mango’s Tropical Cafe.
“People come off these cruise ships dreaming of dancing salsa at Mango’s.”
Alexander Tachmes, attorney for the Clevelander, accused the mayor of “really turning up the heat on the Ocean Drive anti-business rhetoric” last summer and essentially trying to siphon off established businesses while the city attempts to rebrand and court more cultural businesses.
The Clevelander sued the city over the 2 a.m. alcohol ban in May and won a temporary injunction until a trial starts this fall. The owners also sought in court to have Ocean Drive reopened, arguing that pandemic restrictions were no longer necessary, but they were unsuccessful.
The bar said the chaos in the street has made it difficult to maintain a nightlife business. The Clevelander checks IDs and pays for security, yet it has been a victim of vandalism and fights that spill over from nearby crowds. The bar voluntarily shut down early in March as the city struggled to gain control during spring break.
The majority of “problem tourists” are not college students, but come from out of state looking for trouble, city officials have said.
Some Black activists have accused the city of using overly harsh police tactics to disperse crowds and, on a larger scale, trying to attract only certain types of visitors, while discouraging others.
Ruban Roberts, former head of the NAACP’s Miami chapter, called police tactics “callous” and “overzealous” in an op-ed published in the Miami Herald after a disastrous 2020 spring break. Roberts alleged Black tourists were treated “as second-class citizens.”
Part of South Beach also caters to middle-income customers, on the opposite side of the higher-end playground that includes the Fontainebleau, Delano and Faena hotels.
“If you can’t afford $200 for two people for dinner, you have the right to eat and have a nice drink and watch a football game,” said Tachmes, who also represents two upscale restaurants. “You don’t have to have a Michelin restaurant in order to eliminate crime.”
During notoriously crowded weekends, some websites dish on the best party spots and exclusive poolside parties, while other sites offer tips to residents and vacationers looking to avoid the melee.
In an attempt to discourage large crowds, the city canceled all programs amid the pandemic, leaving a void where tens of thousands of people gathered with nothing to do. An initial lack of police created an anything-goes atmosphere, and businesses complained that crowds were using marijuana, drinking and treating the area like a house party.
Ken Koppel, chairman of SoBe Safe, a group of 400 concerned residents, said some tourists are merely “gun-toting drug sellers who disrespect cops and misdemeanor statutes” and gather in crowds that are too large for police to control.
And even with the increased police presence, which Koppel said many residents support, “who wants to live in or pay for an armed camp forever?”
mRNA vaccines weaken immune system even after COVID-19 recovery, according to UK data
COVID-19 vaccines appear to inhibit the body’s natural ability to produce antibodies, leaving vaccinated people vulnerable to infection.
The alarming information was contained in the UK government’s latest “COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report,” which noted that “N antibody levels appear to be lower in people who acquire infection following two doses of vaccination.”
Vaccine researcher Alex Berenson first highlighted the UK government’s alarming admission, warning it means vaccinated people will never be able to acquire full immunity even after they’ve recovered from an infection.
“What the British are saying is they are now finding the vaccine interferes with your body’s innate ability after infection to produce antibodies against not just the spike protein but other pieces of the virus,” Berenson explained.
“Specifically, vaccinated people don’t seem to be producing antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein, the shell of the virus, which are a crucial part of the response in unvaccinated people.”
The result is “vaccinated people will be far more vulnerable to mutations in the spike protein EVEN AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN INFECTED AND RECOVERED ONCE,” Berenson writes.
“It also means the virus is likely to select for mutations that go in exactly that direction, because those will essentially give it an enormous vulnerable population to infect. And it probably is still more evidence the vaccines may interfere with the development of robust long-term immunity post-infection.”
Berenson’s research dovetails with results from an independent study conducted by an Illinois physician who demonstrated how the COVID vaccine suppresses the body’s adaptive immune system, leaving vaccinated individuals more susceptible to illness and possibly explaining the phenomenon of “breakthrough infections.”
“If they have this low [immunity] and it stays and it persists… and that adaptive immune system response persists… it’s going to have a bad response to any other kind of viral infection,” claimed Dr. Nathan Thompson.
“If you looked at that blood work, would you say that this person is very susceptible to having another viral infection, and maybe…you just might call it a breakthrough infection, you guys see that? A breakthrough infection.”
“Could it be that after this maybe this is happening in a lot of people and leaving them wide open to have breakthrough infections after that?” the doctor questioned, imploring other doctors to conduct their own tests.
COVID-19 vaccine developer Dr. David LV Bauer also admitted the jabs destroy the body’s immune response, lowering crucial antibodies necessary to fight off disease.
Last week, Berenson during an appearance on the ‘Joe Rogan Experience’ also broke down how UK government data also showed double-vaccinated individuals contracted COVID at higher rates than unvaccinated people.
Washington Post editorial board calls for United States military invasion of Haiti
The Washington Post editorial board is calling for yet more military action in foreign nations, this time much closer to home in a seeming throwback to the era of the Monroe Doctrine.
“Haiti’s spiraling mayhem, florid lawlessness and humanitarian meltdown were predictable following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July,” the op-ed published earlier in the week began. “In a country already crippled by governmental dysfunction, the vacuum of political legitimacy and authority after that murder left a breeding ground for anarchy.”
The article links Biden administration ‘inaction’ with the recent kidnapping of 17 Ohio-based missionaries in Port-au-Prince. Currently, a criminal gang is demanding $17 million for their release, as FBI agents are reportedly on the ground searching for clues as to where they are being held.
“The mess was largely ignored by the Biden administration, which has been preoccupied with other crises, until the kidnapping Saturday of 17 missionaries — a Canadian and 16 Americans, including five children — near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince,” WaPo continues.
“Now the maelstrom in the hemisphere’s poorest nation is no longer ignorable,” the editorial board writes.
Here are the key lines calling for US military action:
Yet for all its unintended consequences, outside intervention could also establish a modicum of stability and order that would represent a major humanitarian improvement on the status quo, and with it, the prospect of lives saved and livelihoods enabled.
In 2010, the U.S. sent a major Navy and Marine deployment to Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response in the wake of a deadly earthquake that devastated the country. Also this summer, a couple hundred Marines were sent in response to an earthquake that resulted in the deaths of more that 2,000 Haitians.
The editorial board concludes, “In the cost-benefit analysis that would attend any fresh intervention, policymakers must be alert to the risks, but also to the enormous peril of continuing to do nothing.”
How Florida could save Christmas: Port authority tells cargo vessels waiting to dock in California to divert via Panama Canal to The Sunshine State where there are no backlogs
The Jacksonville Port Authority said it’s the solution to an unprecedented logjam at The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where weeks-long queues are slowing commerce ahead of the year’s busiest shopping season.
It’s a sharp contrast from the scene in Jacksonville, which officials said has maintained terminal fluidity – and set a new container volume record – despite market disruptions.
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