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‘I didn’t start no riot’: Lafayette man charged with inciting unrest at Miami Beach spring break

(WISH) — Jovan Washington said he didn’t notice the police at first. 

The 30-year-old Lafayette, Indiana, man was among more than 50 people arrested over the weekend as spring break crowds overwhelmed Miami Beach, Florida.

“It was a crowd, and you in the middle of the crowd, and you not really … it’s like they (are) really not there,” Washington told News 8 on Wednesday. 

Jovan Washington appeared in court Tuesday morning to face charges of inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, resisting an officer without violence to his person, and violation of an emergency curfew. He was released from jail after his court appearance.

Washington was arrested Sunday night after police received multiple 911 calls of reports of an extremely large crowd of up to 500 people that were blocking roads, vandalizing property, playing loud music, trespassing, drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, burglarizing, and refusing to disperse, said a Miami Beach police arrest report. 

The arrest report said that “officers were in fear for their safety due to the growing aggressiveness of the crowd” and motorists in the area feared for their safety. They “could not drive their vehicles through the street due to the crowd.”

Police said in an arrest report that Washington was “enticing the crowd with music from speakers” to not follow the demands of police, and the gathering responded by jumping on vehicles, causing their roofs to cave in and their windshields to shatter. The crowd also taunted and made obscene gestures at police officers who tried to disperse the crowd.

Washington said, “I ain’t see windshields being broken. I saw people on cars. I ain’t see people jump on cars. I saw people walk on cars, like stand there, dance, but I ain’t see people bashing or breaking windshields.”

As the music died down, Washington said he started to walk toward police so he could go home.

“They see me with my speaker, and they tell me cut off my speaker, and I say, ‘It’s not on,’ and they say, ‘Give it here,’ and I’m like no,” Washington said. 

He said at that point police grabbed him and his speaker and he was arrested. He said several people were in the crowd with speakers throughout the night, and police had him confused for someone else.

“I’m sorry for breaking curfew. I didn’t start no riot,” Washington said. 

“At the end, I feel like somebody had to get in trouble and since I had the speaker and the big problems were gone, they locked me up,” Washington said.

Police said five officers were injured Sunday night.

Washington’s arrest came after crowds got out of control late Saturday, and the city later established an 8 p.m. curfew. On Sunday, the Miami Beach City Commission declared the 8 p.m. curfew would be in effect Thursday through Sunday until at least March 30. City Manager Rual Aguila could decide to extend the curfew through April 13, CNN reports.

More than 50 people have been arrested and eight firearms confiscated since Friday, according to a tweet from the Miami Beach Police Department on Sunday.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested in Miami Beach since Feb. 3 as spring break travelers have visited the city, Aguila said at an emergency commission meeting Sunday. Of those arrests, more than 350 have been felony arrests, he said.

News 8’s Demie Johnson will have reports on News 8 at 10 and 11.

Jovan Washington. (Photo Provided/Miami-Dade Corrections & Rehabilitation Department)
People gather while exiting the area as an 8 p.m. curfew goes into effect on March 21, 2021, in Miami Beach, Florida. College students have arrived in the South Florida area for the annual spring break ritual, prompting city officials to impose an overnight curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Miami Beach police have reported hundreds of arrests and stepped up deployment to control the growing spring break crowds. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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