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Residents concerned over chaos on South Beach

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    MIAMI BEACH, Florida (WFOR) — On Sunday March 21, when police closed popular Ocean Drive at 8 p.m., not everyone went home. Some people continued the party on the streets of residential Meridian Avenue, just a few blocks over.

“Over 1,000 people easily,” said John Walter, who lives in an apartment on Meridian Ave. “And they were walking up and down parked cars.”

Walter said police did show up within about 15 minutes and reminded the crowds of the city’s curfew in the entertainment district.

“When the police showed up and said ‘Miami Beach police, this is a state of emergency,’ people started running to our building,” Walsh said. “My neighbor and I sat on the floor and put our feet on the staircase to try and block them from coming in. I guess they were afraid of being pepper sprayed or something.”

Another woman who lives on Euclid Avenue also heard the throngs of people on Sunday night and took cell phone video which captured the sounds of police sirens echoing through neighborhoods.

The chaos and unruly crowds during the Spring Break holiday forced Miami Beach officials to call it a State of Emergency.

Police also implemented a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the city’s entertainment district, which includes Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue.

“This not what vacation should be about,” said Merle Liivand who lives in Miami Beach. “When somebody comes to your home, you don’t want the guests leaving trash everywhere. So don’t do that to our beaches,” she said.

Liivand is an athlete and swimmer who heads to the beach every day. While she’s there, she cleans up trash. And she said recently, it’s become everyday work.

“Every single person who comes here and wants to vacation and love Miami Beach, don’t come here to do bad things,” said Liivand. “Come here and enjoy, come here and give back to the nature and other people.”

The chaos that has sometimes flowed into residential areas has attracted national attention.

“How many weeks do we have of this still to go? It just makes us look like the laughingstock of the country,” said Walter.

But not everyone who lives in Miami Beach is bothered by the crowds that have flocked to South Beach for spring break.

“I saw some local fights or something like this, but it wasn’t as crazy as I saw on the news,” said Soslan Khamitcaev, who lives in Meridian Avenue.

He wasn’t home Sunday, he said, when video showed large groups of people blocking traffic in front of his apartment. But he said he doesn’t mind the crowds as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.

“I don’t want to see fights and everything, but other than that, I’m completely find with that,” he said.

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