Cops vs. Bros

A historical time line

Cops vs. Bros
Luke McGarry

Between 2009 and this year, bros continue to get arrested each July 4, with 2012 being the peak year, with more than 50 arrests made. Clearly, the bros have not learned their lesson, as the 2013 U.S. Open of Surfing riots made clear. According to the pattern, next summer, the cops will be back to busting bros big-time again. Here's a look at riotous summers past:

Aug. 31, 1986: Drunk bros start running through a crowd of onlookers at the OP Pro Surf Contest, ripping bikini tops off various gals. Fighting ensues, cops are quickly overwhelmed, and the crowd topples some lifeguard towers and burn a couple of city police cruisers. The cops, who put framed photographs of the flaming vehicles in their headquarters, vow never to let that happen again.

July 4, 1993: Bros take over Huntington Beach's increasingly rowdy Independence Day Celebration. They decide to celebrate America's birth by burning furniture on street corners. Police, five of whom are injured in clashes with the bros, arrest 40 of them.

Luke McGarry

July 4, 1995: Having apparently taken the previous year off, the bros come back to burn some couches on the street. This time, cops arrest 100 of them. The police get sued for brutality after wading into a crowd with batons.

July 4, 1996: The cops did some research and discovered a loophole in a long-forgotten ordinance allows them to arrest people drinking beer in their front yards, unless those yards are surrounded by fences. Hundreds of people, many of them bros, are arrested and forced to spend the night in a Guantanamo Bay-type open holding cell, minus the portable toilets. Fewer couches catch fire this year. Yay, freedom!

July 4, 2003: According to newspapers, 90 bros are arrested.

July 22, 2008: Bros brawl, and someone gets hurt with a lead pipe.

July 4, 2009: Sixty-nine people, a lot of them presumably bros, are arrested, mostly for drinking in public.

July 28, 2013: Hundreds of drunk bros and bro-hos rampage through Main Street after the day's surfing activities. Notably absent are the cops. Store windows are smashed, portable toilets are knocked over, and numerous parking meters and newspaper racks—including the Weekly's own beloved "Racky" (see Gustavo Arellano's accompanying essay)—are viciously assaulted. Thanks to a glut of cell-phone recordings that quickly go online on social media, police are able to identify and arrest some 20 bros. Contrary to popular claims that most of the bros are from the 909 area code, many are Surf City locals.

Editor's note: A different version of this story ran online on July 31, 2013.

The original version of this story incorrectly stated that a Huntington Beach firefighter was arrested in last year's riots. The firefighter was an Anaheim resident who worked for the Fullerton Fire Department. The Weekly regrets the error.