By EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(MIAMI BEACH, Fla.) — An Indiana man is accused of inciting a riot in Miami Beach amid a surge of tourists in the city, according to authorities.
The city of Miami Beach declared a state of emergency for its entertainment district on Saturday amid concerns of a COVID-19 surge following spring break parties. The Miami Beach City Commission has enacted a Thursday-to-Sunday 8 p.m. curfew for the entertainment district through the morning of April 12.
The incident unfolded Sunday night as authorities responded to a crowd of about 400 to 500 people who were blocking roads, vandalizing cars, playing loud music, drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, burglarizing and refusing to disperse, according to the arrest affidavit.
Officers told the revelers to leave, explaining that the city was under a state of emergency and those who don’t comply could be arrested, the affidavit said.
The crowd was uncooperative, Miami Beach police said. Some people made “obscene gestures” toward officers, police said, and some jumped on cars, leaving roofs caved in and windshields shattered.
Officers saw 30-year-old Jovan Washington playing music from a speaker; he was allegedly “enticing those around to engage in unruly behavior” and “to not follow the commands of officers,” the affidavit said.
The police, who were outnumbered, claimed Washington’s actions “provoked the crowd to become more hostile towards officers,” the affidavit said.
The officers claimed they asked Washington, of Lafayette, Indiana, “to stop his actions multiple times, to no avail,” the affidavit said.
Officers then confiscated the speaker and arrested Washington, police said. Charges against Washington include incite to riot, disorderly conduct and curfew violation.
At his first court appearance Tuesday, Washington told the judge, “My speaker wasn’t even that loud,”ABC Miami affiliate WPLG reported.
His arraignment is set for April 20. ABC News could not immediately reach his attorney for comment.
“We’re the only real destination, it seems like, open across the country, so tens of thousands of people are flocking here,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told ABC News’ Good Morning America Monday. “We’re trying to get a handle on it. And we’re only doing it through policing and a curfew and shutting down our causeways coming into our city in the evening.”
To those looking to party in Miami Beach, the mayor pleaded: “If you’re coming here because you think anything goes and the rules don’t apply … you’re wrong.”
“Please vacation responsibly.”
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