HUNTINGTON BEACH – Police arrested eight people after big crowds from the Vans US Open of Surfing turned rowdy Sunday night.
The chaos of Labor Day 1986’s OP Pro Surf Contest, in which 12 people were injured, inspired leaders to take precautions in future events. Since then, surf contests have not been held on Labor Day weekend, and alcohol is not allowed. Security has also been heightened, with increased police presence.
Several officers sustained minor injuries, officials said. Police had the crowd under control by 9:15 p.m., according to Lt. Mitch O’Brien, spokesman for the Huntington Beach Police Department.
The eight people were arrested on suspicion of failure to disperse after officials declared an unlawful assembly. Police said the crowd damaged city vehicles, portable toilets street signs and windows. The estimated value of the damage is still being determined.
O’Brien said police were attempting to clear the heavy crowds when a large fight broke out.
Officers tried to break up the fight and a disturbance grew in the downtown area, with people in the crowd chucking bottles and other debris at police officers, turning over portable toilets and damaging other property.
Even after a call to other departments for assistance, the crowd would not disperse, O’Brien said.
Police described the incident as a “major disturbance” and shot several people with rubber balls.
Broken glass was strewn on the street late Sunday night as police helicopters were circling the area. Witnesses said a stop sign was removed and used to smash a window at the Easyrider bike shop on Main Street, from where a bicycle was stolen.
Miguel Lopez III, 21, of Huntington Beach took a lengthy video showing male and female participants in what appeared to be street fights among hundreds of people on Main Street near the Huntington Beach Beer Co. People were seen igniting a box full of paper, tearing down newspaper racks after beating on them with skateboards and throwing chairs.
Julie Lynn, 21, of Fullerton said she was at Gallagher’s and unaware of the disturbance when she saw a group yelling at another group.
By CLAUDIA KOERNER, MORGAN COOK and JAIMIE LYNN FLETCHER / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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