Miami Beach takes action for spring break after students trash South Beach

MIAMI BEACH, Florida. – Following the rampage of South Beach by Miami-Dade Public School students, Miami Beach City leaders are taking note and taking action as spring breakers descend on our beaches in the weeks ahead.

There was anger and outrage after the incident last week.

“Honestly, I cried, I’m not going to lie,” said Maria Algarra, founder of Clean This Beach Up.

The sand on South Beach was strewn with rubbish from the South Pointe pier to the Second Street lifeguard station after a day on the beach turned unpleasant.

“Seeing the amount of trash and the kids leaving without remorse broke my heart,” Algarra said.

But these weren’t tourists, they were students from several Miami-Dade County public schools dropping out of class for an unsanctioned jump day.

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“What about our children? Really?” asked Sophie Ringel, founder of Clean Miami Beach.

In fact, it was tourists and local volunteers who cleaned up the beach, only to have it trashed again by some of the revelers who returned, opening more than 40 bags of rubbish while searching for the items they had left behind. behind them.

“There is no excuse for what they did,” Algarra said.

City of Miami Beach and county public works crews responded to pick up the mess at sunrise, but volunteers who routinely come out to clean up our beaches say our leaders need to do more to stop this trashy behavior before it happens. does not appear on our shores.

“The problem is, it becomes a mess in the first place,” said Dave Doebler, co-founder of Volunteer Clean Up.

“It’s not a recurring problem. It’s a constant underlying problem that is still overlooked,” added Theo Quenee, founder of @sendit4thesea.

“There has to be an app,” Ringel said.

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Trash in Miami Beach is supposed to be illegal. A first offense carries a hefty fine of $1,500. The second offense costs $2,500 and a third offense costs $3,500, but is rarely, if ever, enforced.

“It’s so hard to enforce waste laws, why is that?” Louis Aguirre of Local 10 News asked Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

“Well, because you have to see someone throwing trash,” Gelber replied. “At the end of the day and seven kilometers from the beaches, if there are people who want to be assholes and who want to pollute, it is very difficult to stop them. And the only option is to clean up after them.

But campaigners say it sends the wrong message that more needs to be done to dissuade people from littering before they set foot on the sand.

“We don’t engage with people, we don’t tell them how to behave, we don’t reinforce positive behavior,” Doebler said.

In years past, he and other activists strolled the beach on high-impact weekends, like spring break, with clever posters to remind beachgoers to enjoy, but respect our backyard. court.

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“We came out with trash bags,” he said. “We walked along the shore and asked people, ‘Hey, this trash is coming, can you help us out and pick up the trash?’

Doebler said they got a good response doing this.

“It’s just that we’re just volunteers. We don’t have all the resources to be able to do that on an ongoing basis,” he said.

The City of Miami Beach, however, says it is stepping up.

“Obviously I was disgusted,” Gelber said. “We should do more, you’re right. We should do more.

“People need to understand how important it is, not only to keep the beach clean, but I think what they don’t realize is that very often whatever you leave on the beach goes into the trash. ‘ocean,’ added the mayor.

Just hours after the interview with Local 10 News, a plan of action was lit. The city is now activating a collaborative initiative to engage beachgoers before they hit the shore.

Goodwill ambassadors at the height of the pandemic will join park rangers and volunteers on the sand during spring break weekends to encourage those who visit our beaches to be responsible with their litter, to dispose of it properly and leave no trace.

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“We don’t have to be super hardcore to get people to behave appropriately,” Doebler said.

But what about our children? They live here and we showed a few of them the Senior Captains Day videos and asked them what they thought.

“Yeah, no, it’s awful,” said Joshua Suri, a senior at Coral Gables High School.

Janiel Martinez, a student at Ronald Reagan High School, said she thinks people are probably leaving litter on the beach out of laziness.

“They should know better. It’s their beach,” Gelber said. “You know, look, you hope you can teach people good behavior.”

We have invited Miami-Dade Public Schools to be part of this important conversation. The district responded with this statement which reads in part:

“This district goes to great lengths to promote and encourage positive behavior among our students and we continue to remind parents to talk to their children about the importance of responsible citizenship.”

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But for now, an army of responsible citizens is growing. Their message is loud and clear – trashing our beaches is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

“Stop littering, please. Consider this your home. This is your home,” Ringel said.

If you’d like to be part of watching over our beaches during these upcoming weeks of Spring Break, our volunteer cleaning crews can use your help.

Click here to find or organize beach cleanups in your area (

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