History of Violent Crowds Mars Summer Months of Huntington Beach

The city has installed cameras near its pier to combat drunken incidents

The violent crowd that raged through Huntington Beach after a surfing competition Sunday night was nothing new to a city with a history of public drunkenness and rowdy crowds.

Sunday’s chaos erupted after thousands gathered for the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing. Rioters brawled with each other in the streets, overturned portable toilets, threw rocks and bottles at police officers and vandalized local businesses. Eight people were arrested.

"This council prioritizes the safety and comfort of our residents above all else," Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman said at a news conference Monday afternoon. "We take any kind of civil disturbance seriously."

Crowds get rowdy in the beach town often enough that the city installed cameras near its pier earlier this year. It gets particularly severe during summer months and holidays.

Here is a list of other notable incidents involving crowds in Huntington Beach:

  • July 4, 2013: Officers arrest 22 people, mostly for alcohol-related offenses, Huntington Beach Detention Supervisor Todd Florez told NBC4. Florez said this number marked a decline compared to previous years.
  • July 4-5, 2012: Police arrest 53 people, mostly for alcohol-related offenses, Florez said.
  • July 4, 2010: Police respond to more than 220 calls about illegal fireworks, according to the OC Register. Officers cite 24 people and arrest four.
  • July 4-5, 2009: Police arrest 67 people for alcohol-related incidents, according to the OC Register.
  • June 22, 2008: A street brawl among about a dozen people erupts on the Pacific Coast Highway, the OC Register reported. Someone in the crowd strikes an innocent bystander in the head with a lead pipe. No arrests are made.
  • July 4, 2006: Police arrest 37 people, 22 of them for drunken driving or public intoxication, the Huntington Beach Independent reported.
  • July 4, 2003: Police seize more than 45,000 illegal fireworks and arrest 90 people, according to the Huntington Beach Independent. The Huntington Beach City Council had banned fireworks displays in the city earlier that year.
  • July 4, 1996: Police arrest more than 500 Fourth of July revelers, according to the LA Times’ archives. About 90 percent of  them are booked for being drunk in public or drinking in public.
  • July 4, 1995: Partygoers torch sofas and trash cans, trample yards and topple over bus benches. Authorities arrest 100 people. The first-ever Fourth of July homicide occurs in Huntington Beach's history, according to the LA Times.
  • July 4, 1993: Police arrest 40 men in connection with a huge street fire started using residents’ furniture, the LA Times reported. A clash with rioters injures five officers.
  • Aug. 31, 1986: Violence erupts during the Ocean Pacific Pro Surfing Championships, destroying a lifeguard headquarters, overturning police cars and setting them on fire. 
Contact Us