In the wake of rioting that saw police outnumbered, storefronts smashed and city property vandalized, some Huntington Beach residents are calling for organizers to scale back next year’s U.S. Open of Surfing.
“We’re taking this disturbance very seriously,” Huntington Beach City Councilman Joe Carchio assured more than 100 residents who showed up at the council meeting Tuesday night to air their grievances.
Unruly beachgoers tipped over portable toilets, sending waste flowing onto the road Sunday evening. They also rocked a city of Huntington Beach pickup truck and threw traffic cones and wooden planks pulled from barricades at the truck's windows after failing to flip it.
City leaders Tuesday night said they will create a task force to see how police can change their plans for future opens and how the event should be reshaped.
More than 50 residents spoke to the City Council on Tuesday night; some wanted the surf tournament scaled back, others wanted it more family-focused.
Troves of photos on Twitter, Instagram and videos on YouTube show a chaotic scene. People in the crowd taunted police and ripped city signs from streets. Police fired pepper balls and nonlethal projectiles to quell them. Several officers suffered minor injuries, and one person was treated and released from a hospital after being hit by a rubber projectile.
“I can’t tell you how many bottles of hot sauce were thrown at us,” Huntington Beach Police Chief Ken Small said.
He said there were 102 local officers on duty during Sunday’s riot. Another 21 came in voluntarily to help along with 148 officers from 21 other agencies.
Residents say it wasn’t enough. Witnesses reported seeing beachgoers pouring drinks into cups then tossing their bottles onto residents’ lawns, public urination and jammed traffic. A local business owner said the tournament doesn’t bring her hair salon the business officials assume it does.
“I let them pee on my grass. I didn’t want a conflict. I let them throw bottles onto my grass and we picked them up,” said resident Jeff Freud. “It’s not a surf contest.”
Chase Scott Christman, 19, of Simi Valley was the first to be arraigned in connection with the riot. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony vandalism, misdemeanor inciting a riot and misdemeanor refusing to disperse.
Anaheim resident Michael John Lytle, 30, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in connection with the disturbance that broke out after the eight-day U.S. Open of Surfing that ended Sunday.
Gretchen Beatty, director of human resources for the city of Fullerton, confirmed that Lytle is a Fullerton firefighter who has been placed on leave while “there is an investigation on the personnel side.”
Beatty said Lytle was hired as a firefighter in February 2008, according to the Orange County Register.
Five others also were arrested, including Huntington Beach resident Andres Gomez, 24, who was booked on suspicion of refusing to disperse and resisting arrest.
Michael Anthony Avila, 28, of Santa Ana; Joseph Monterrosa, 28, of Ontario; Adam A. Cecot, 18, of Irvine; and Kyle Roger Crott, 18, of Riverside also were booked on charges related to disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Huntington Beach police said there could be additional arrests.
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