Five men were arrested after police responded to reports of fighting in Fort Lauderdale beach where a large crowd gathered on Presidents Day.
More than a dozen officers responded, along with two Wilton Manors police officers, on State Road A1A, north and south of Las Olas Boulevard about 5 p.m. Monday.
It took about two hours to completely disperse the crowds.Two additional county buses were brought onto the beach to help move people out, officials said.
"Here we go again," said City Commissioner Dean Trantalis, who represents the area. "Another holiday weekend. Another brawl. Another black eye for Fort Lauderdale on the beach."
City Manager Lee Feldman said the holiday had not drawn such crowds before.
"We will now anticipate Presidents Day as something we need to pay attention to," Feldman said.
During a City Commission meeting Tuesday, officials discussed the Beach Place development on South Atlantic Boulevard, which has drawn scrutiny from the city's Nuisance Abatement Board after police reported more than 600 calls to police and 48 arrests in the second half of 2013. The board has required additional security measures, but Beach Place management said many of those incidents did not occur on their property, but on the sidewalk in front of it and on the beach across the street.
Police on Tuesday did not link the complex to the fighting.
"We do not have evidence at this time to say that individuals came to the specific area of Beach Place," Fort Lauderdale Police Detective DeAnna Greenlaw said. "It was more of them just coming to the beach or using Beach Place's parking or nearby city lots."
According to complaint affidavits, charged with disorderly conduct were Brandon Witherington, 20, and Nefali Antonio Rodriguez, 18, both of Miami. Humberto Burke Rondon, 21, of Plantation, was charged with obstruction; Lorenzo Thomas, 33, unknown address, was charged with trespass after a warning and Livingstone A. Wright Jr., 27, of Miramar, was charged with carrying a concealed firearm and not wearing a seat belt.
After rowdy disturbances at the beach on Memorial Day last year, Feldman said police began a new protocol — calling in more officers and conducting "crowd control before the crowd gets out of control."
Trantalis said law enforcement needs to be more proactive.
"Clearly, there's a sense of insecurity there by the residents," Trantalis said. "If we're expecting people to spend millions of dollars on condos, right on that corner, it's not going to happen."
Police Chief Frank Adderley said there are usually about four officers at the affected beach zone and there could be an additional 10 officers working off-duty details at nearby establishments ready to respond.
Miami Beach arrested four people out of a crowd of about 2,000 on Monday, and police in both cities were trying to determine if there was a connection between the incidents.
Ltrischitta@Tribune.com, 954-356-4233 or Twitter @LindaTrischitta