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Miami Beach mayor responds to liquor store lawsuit: Business model ‘thrives’ off ‘chaos’

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber did not mince words when responding Thursday to a lawsuit filed by a liquor store owner asking for a stop to a city curfew order on liquor stores.

The curfew was set to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday and run through Sunday, in the wake of a violent weekend on South Beach.

“I guess there’s a business model that thrives off of some of the chaos,” Gelber said.

The liquor store curfew was passed this week by city commissioners in lieu of a broader curfew, which failed to gain enough support.

Liquor store owners accuse the city of unfairly targeting them.

“They’re just picking on the liquor stores,” Jorge Zubigaray, owner of Gulf Liquors on Alton Road, told Local 10 News after filing the lawsuit.

Gelber implied that stores not going along with the order weren’t cooperating with city efforts to stem the violence.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “We would hope that our businesses would be partners as we try to tamp down spring break.”

City officials are hoping the order curbs misbehavior.

We’re not going to be dissuaded from moving forward and doing what we need to do,” Gelber said. “I’d like to still see a (full) curfew, but I don’t think that’s going to happen unless there’s support from the commission for that.”

Former Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine took to social media to criticize the commission for not passing the broader curfew, ordering people off the streets by midnight.

“Unfortunately, we have a commission that is so weak in the knees, that gets so influenced by campaign cash to their PACs,” Levine said. “They would rather do whatever it takes to keep themselves in office than to do the right thing.”

City officials are also ordering city-owned parking garages to be closed by 9 p.m.

Police say there will also be road closures as needed and license plate readers will be operating along main thoroughfares.

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