See Update No. 5 on Page 4 with the police chief saying more vandals have been identified and will soon be arrested as his department releases the names and charges against those already arrested. Update No. 4 at the bottom of Page 3 is on the U.S. Open of Surfing organizer being “saddened” by the riots, the city hosting a press conference on the violence this afternoon and a social media campaign aimed at outing one vandal. Update No. 3 on Page 3 has police seeking photos and video (like what's higher up on the same page) so they can possibly add to the arrest total of eight. Page 2 has photos from the scene and Update No. 2 on what police initially posted on their Facebook page. Update No. 1 after the jump has witness accounts.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 28, 8:55 P.M.: Police in riot gear and holding batons are being illuminated by police helicopters flying overhead as downtown Huntington Beach resembles a war zone at this hour.
Department officials, who are calling this a “major event,” say a large group of rowdy people refused to leave after the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing ended around 5 p.m., leading to public rioting.
No injuries have been reported, but some property has apparently been damaged.
* 6 Possible Sparks to the Riots That Broke Out After the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing Ended
* The Huntington Beach Surf Riot: A New Perspective
* 25 Years Ago Today, the Op Pro in Huntington Beach Erupted in Riots [VIDEO]
A caller to KTLA/Channel 5 News claims closures around PCH, Main Street and First Street happened after someone apparently stole an item or items from a store. This was followed by fighting in front of a liquor store.
Portable toilets were being tipped over by the time a line of police officers came up from the pier area to clear the streets. The caller claimed pepper-spray pellets were shot into the crowd, prompting some angered civilians to pull up stop signs.
Some of those hit will pellets screamed they had been shot, according to the caller, who added officers seemed to have moved beyond closing main streets to downtown alleys as well.
A teen later interviewed on camera near the pier said members of the rowdy group threw ketchup bottles.
UPDATE NO. 1, JULY 28, 9:30 P.M.: A witness tells the Weekly she is locked inside Gallaghers pub in downtown Huntington Beach “and it looks like the running of the bulls out there.”
Tear gas has been fired into crowds, and fires have broken out, the witness adds.
A resident says the rioting has been going on for five hours and that merchants had been warning of a riot coming before things actually went south. The rioting seemed to be stirred up by a group of young men wearing bandanas.
Huntington Beach Police called in for help from Seal Beach, Fullerton and other Orange County law enforcement agencies.
Photos shot by John Gilhooley for OC Weekly are on on the next page. Videos of the chaos are on page 3.
UPDATE NO. 2, JULY 28, 9:50 A.M.: The Huntington Beach Police Department posted the following on its Facebook page:
Disturbance in Downtown Huntington Beach
July 28, 2013 at 9:21pm
On the 7-28-13 at 7:16 PM officers encountered a large crowd at Main and Pacific Coast Highway. The crowd had gathered at the conclusion of the Van's US Open of Surfing, an 8 day surf and skate event. A large fight broke out and when officers attempted to break up the disturbance the crowd moved into the downtown area. The crowds began fighting, damaging property and refused to disperse.
HBPD requested mutual aid from other agencies to help disperse the crowd. The area was declared an unlawful assembly and officers have moved in to deal with the crowd and make arrests. The police now have control of the downtown area and the disturbance quelled.
We do not have any specific information about the number of arrests, number of agencies who have responded, damaged property or injuries at this time.
We will update this press release as soon as possible.
See videos of the chaos on the next page.
Rioters tip portable toilets:
Rioters hurl a stop sign through store window, loot:
Rioters attempt to flip a City of Huntington Beach truck:
A giant mob fights in the street:
Rioters tear down a stop sign:
Two girls fight in the street:
More port-o-potty tipping:
UPDATE NO. 3, JULY 29, 8:24 A.M.: The Huntington Beach Police Department reports "order” was restored by 9 p.m., despite our witness having told us a half hour after that she was locked inside a bar steps from Main Street.
Eight people were arrested on suspicion of failure to disperse and booked at the city jail, according to police.
City vehicles, portable toilets, merchant windows and street signs were among the items damaged, and the loss of property "is still being determined,” police said.
Among the most troubling things knocked down and battered were newspaper racks, including one of OC Weekly's that just flashed on the teevee. What kind of monster were hurt one of our innocent racks? Hasn't print taken enough of a beating already?
As for injuries to mortals, none have been reported to the cops.
"We are seeking additional suspects and request anyone with pictures, video or information to please call the Huntington Beach Police Department Hotline at 714.375.5066,” reads an update on the agency's Facebook page linked to higher up in this post.
UPDATE NO. 4, JULY 29, 1:26 P.M.: The ASP World Tour, which organizes the annual U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, has issued the following statement via its Facebook page:
We're extremely disappointed and saddened by the disturbance that occurred up on Main St after the close of the US Open of Surfing. We work tirelessly with City staff, police, fire and other agencies to ensure a safe environment for all. We appreciate the quick response of HBPD and are awaiting further information.
U.S. Open organizers are scheduled to join Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman, other members of the City Council and Police Chief Ken Small for a 4 p.m. news conference to discuss the violence that erupted Sunday evening.
They are to gather at Pier Plaza Amphitheater at Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street.
UPDATE NO. 5, JULY 29, 4:29 P.M.: Huntington Beach Police Chief Ken Small said at a news conference about the U.S. Open of Surfing riots that through social media investigators have identified some of those who crashed a stop sign through a bike shop window.
Small's agency is now working with the Orange County District Attorney's office to come up with charges against the vandals, whose arrests are pending, the chief said.
His officers continue to pore through snapshots and video of the vandalism, and Small invited anyone with images that can help investigators to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The social media of 2013 is one of the greatest tools law enforcement has,” said Small, who was facing reporters and surrounded by city leaders and event organizers. "Most of the people in and around those events had nothing to do with destroying property and are willing to come forward and help. None of us want this to go on.”
He credited the assistance of outside police agencies called in to help his Huntington Beach force with quelling the riot quickly with few if any injuries and limited property destruction given what could have happened.
"I want to make clear the officers in my view used great restraint given the bottles, bricks, rocks thrown at them by a crowd of people who repeatedly failed to disperse after being told to,” Small said.
The chief denied reports his officers used tear gas–or, at least he said none had been used to his knowledge. What was used to break up the rowdy crowds were pepper balls, which when they bust open do emit a powder that could be mistaken for gas, Small explained, adding that rubber bullets and bean bags were also deployed by cops.
He was "saddened” that an otherwise safe event that draws hundreds of people from around the world "was left with a blemish” due to a small group of vandals, and Small said he looks forward to working with city officials, event organizers and local merchants so that "this remains a safe event that is fun for all.”
Council members later announced they will hold a special meeting Tuesday so residents can discuss what happened at the Open. It will be held at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Civic Center. Call 714.536.5202 if you have questions.
Minutes before Small spoke, his department posted on its Facebook page the names and cities of and charges against those who have been arrested so far. Surprisingly, only two are from the Inland Empire and the same number come from Irvine as they do Huntington Beach (one each).
One teen is accused of assault with weapon on a police officer for allegedly swinging and trying to hit a cop with a skateboard.
Michael John LYTLE – Anaheim 30 years old – Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest
Andres GOMEZ – Huntington Beach 24 years old – Refuse to Disperse and Resisting Arrest
Michael Anthony AVILA – Santa Ana 28 years old – Resisting or Delaying a Police Officer
Joseph MONTERROSA – Ontario 28 years old – Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest
Adam A CECOT – Irvine 18 years old – Refuse to Disperse/Unlawful Assembly
Chase Scott CHRISTMAN – Simi Valley 19 years old – Vandalism (over $400), Urge Destruction of Property, Refuse to Disperse/Unlawful Assembly
Kyle Roger CROTT – Riverside 18 years old – Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest
Besides the special email address for photos and video, police are also taking anonymous tips over the phone at 714.375.5066.