By Bobeth Yates

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A state of emergency left Miami Beach streets clear of people by 11 p.m. Saturday night.

But hours earlier, thousands gathered near 8 Street and Ocean Drive, singing and dancing.

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The scene quickly changed when police rolled in on ATVs, got on the loud speaker and began telling people to leave.

Officers eventually shot pepper balls into the crowd and began making arrests.

It was an effort Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said is necessary to maintain resident and visitor safety.

“This area has become a tinder and we cannot have a policy of simply hoping that, it’s not lite. We have to act before one of those incidents happen. We cannot act in the wake of something, so that’s why we are premeditatedly taking action today,” Gelber said.

Those actions included implementing an 8 p.m. curfew for Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue and Espanola Way from 5 through 16 Streets.

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“This is crazy, this is dumb, I hate it,” said tourist Venasia Bell.

“I understand that some people came here and did some outlandish things but they do that everywhere, I’m from Detroit they come to our city and act up but our mayor doesn’t shut it down and make a curfew because of that,” added Ashley Griffith, another tourist.

But there were some in support of the efforts.

“The 8 p.m. curfew, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. We had a curfew before and we still found ways to be with each other,” said tourist Eric Nunez.

As a result, all businesses had to shut down and the streets were cleared of all people.  In addition to the curfew, eastbound traffic on Julia Tuttle Causeway, the Venetian Causeway and MacArthur Causeway were closed to non-residents from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“If we had 500 or thousand people, and a very small number of them were acting out in a way that was improper or legal, I’m quite confident that we can easily control that. But, when you have 50,000 or 100,000 even, if it’s just a small percent of those visitors acting out, that becomes a challenge of an entirely different order,” added Mayor Gelber.

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The state of emergency will remain in effect for 72 hours. After that, the city commission will meet to vote on whether it should be extended.