Police Cars Torched, Lifeguard Station Trashed by Mob
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Thousands of people watching a surfing contest went on a rampage after police tried to rescue several women whose bikini tops had been torn off, and 13 people were arrested before order was restored.
Six emergency vehicles were burned and a lifeguard station was looted during the three-hour disturbance in the sand Sunday.
About 10 officers suffered minor injuries, police Sgt. Ron Jenkins said.
The rioters, estimated at between 2,000 and 5,000 teen-agers and young adults, surrounded the lifeguard station chanting ″Anarchy 3/8 Anarchy,″ authorities said.
They broke windows in the station with rocks and bottles, then overturned and set ablaze two black-and-white police cars, an unmarked police car, a police van, a lifeguard Jeep and a three-wheel, all-terrain scooter, Jenkins said.
Thirteen people were arrested, three of them juveniles, for investigation of charges ranging from resisting arrest to assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly pelting police with rocks and bottles.
All but five of them had been released on bail by Monday morning, said Senior Detention Officer Joseph Marucci. He said both men and women were being held.
Some witnesses said club-swinging officers overreacted, but others disagreed.
″The officers were going crazy,″ said Paul Donovan of Westminster, who had gone to the beach with his wife and three children. ″People on bicycles were being kicked over and beaten. They were just beating them.″
City Councilman Don McAllister, who was watching the surf meet from an observation tower, disagreed.
″I have nothing but pride for the way the police acted,″ said McAllister. ″I was trapped up there and I could see the police as they were surrounded below us.″
The melee began when officers went to the aid of five or six young women whose bathing suit tops had been torn off, said Jenkins.
″I heard someone behind the bleachers yelling, ’Take it off, take it off,‴ said Mark Bauserman, 22, a student at nearby Golden West College.
The band of officers, by then about 30 strong, took refuge in the two-story lifeguard station at the Huntington Beach Pier, and the women apparently disappeared into the crowd as the rioters surged around the lifeguard station, Jenkins said.
They broke into a storage area at the lifeguard station and took lifesaving equipment, bicycles and some of the lifeguards’ private clothes, police said.
The crowd of spectators on the beach, estimated by lifeguards at 100,000, had gathered to enjoy sun and sea and watch the OP Pro Surfing Championship in this Orange County Community 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles.