Florida Police Body-Slams Spring Breaker as Maskless Parties Threaten Pandemic Decline

Miami Beach Police were seen body-slamming a spring breaker on Friday night amid fears that maskless partygoers could threaten the state's decline in coronavirus cases.

In a video taken at roughly 8 p.m. on South Beach near Ocean Drive, cops were seen tackling a person to the ground while shooting pepper balls in an effort disperse the crowd, according to local news.

Kevin Green, a witness and resident, told the Miami Herald that authorities were responding to a gathering of more than 200 partygoers. "People were just having fun in that general area," he said. "It looked like people were doing Snapchat videos."

Rough Spring Break Friday night on #MiamiBeach. This just happened at 8th & Ocean Dr. It appears to show a bodyslam takedown as police try to control a crowd. Witnesses who sent me this video say cops were forced to deploy pepper spray which caused a stampede. @wsvn #Exclusive pic.twitter.com/s8gS3Silxe

— Sheldon Fox-7 News (@fox_sheldon) March 13, 2021

In a statement shared to Twitter, authorities said they used pepper balls as a crowd began to surround them while they were detaining a suspect. The police detained several suspects and two cops were transported to a nearby hospital for unknown injuries.

Spring breakers have flocked to South Beach in recent days for the second consecutive year since the start of the pandemic. Police used force to chase the youth away last year as the pandemic emerged, but this year, amid a decline in coronavirus cases, authorities have been working tirelessly to enforce a local public mask order.

Hundreds of maskless partygoers were seen along the beach on Friday, flouting the Center for Disease Control of Prevention's (CDC) guidelines on social distancing. Most were seen without any face coverings and some were wearing their masks under their chin.

"There is an enormous amount of people and not enough masks," said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber in a recent interview. "I say mask use is the exception more than the rule at this point."

A city spokesperson said local officials have been distributing masks after observing a "widespread amount of visitors not wearing face coverings." Police have already handed out roughly 1,700 face coverings to maskless individuals and the city intends to ramp up distribution efforts over the weekend.

Some business owners have exercised caution by strictly enforcing mask use inside their restaurants, while others have taken a more relaxed approach. Most business owners see the influx in tourists as a positive sign that the economic downturn caused by the pandemic is coming to a close.

Dr. J. Glenn Morris, Jr., an infectious disease professor at the University of Florida, told the Herald that he fears the state would soon see a spike in COVID-19 caused by the spring breakers after a steady decline in cases. "We are getting closer to the end," Morris said. "Now is not the time to catch COVID."

On Friday, Florida health officials reported 5,214 new cases, with about 20 percent attributed to Miami-Dade County.

Newsweek reached out to the Miami Beach Police for further information.

Florida Spring Breakers
People walk on the beach on March 04, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images