Update: Shortly after publishing this article several large fights and a riot broke out on Main Street in Huntington Beach. The Huntington Police Department is handling the situation and will provide an update soon.

2013 US Open of Surfing Champino Alejo Muniz competing for attention in Huntington. Photo: Llalande

2013 US Open of Surfing Champion Alejo Muniz competing for attention in Huntington. Photo: Llalande


The Inertia

I had to leave Huntington Beach yesterday. After brushing past a pretty intense “chick fight,” getting screamed at by cops for accidentally walking into a HAZMAT-obstructed horror scene on Main St., and watching a billboard-carrying evangelist accost a lesbian couple, I couldn’t stay any longer. And don’t get me wrong, I love a party. But after three days, Huntington had begun to wear on me. On my soul. The teenage-public-make-out-and-ass-slapping frenzy rioted quietly on the beach, and I tried to make sense of it all. Impossible. Festivals like these need not make sense. I don’t expect them to. But, being that Huntington Beach is our stomping grounds, and the US Open of Surfing is our creation (meaning the action sports and surf industry), it’d be nice to roll it up into a sensible sentence or two.  If I spent another hour thinking about that sentence, I’d deliver one. Instead, I’ll do this pictorially. Because it’s the imagery that has the staying power. Brace yourself. Apologies in advance.

When I think of the US Open, I think first of this image a friend shared on Facebook (which, coincidentally, is not from this year’s event, but representative nonetheless):

US Open. The epitome of class. Photo anonymously shared and discovered from Facebook.

The epitome of class. Photo anonymously shared and discovered from Facebook.

Then, I think of this:

US Open Body Art

US Open Body Art. Photo: @amandaa_gordon

Then I think of this:

Which may have subconsciously lead to a series of fights and riots in Huntington Beach this evening. So, now I think of this:

Here’s a press release Huntington Beach Police Department released in response tonight:

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.

The reason I associate Huntington Beach’s US Open with these things is because they all happened. And things like these (riot aside…despite the first OP Riots happening in 1986) happen every year at the United States Open of Surfing. It’s not surfing’s (or humanity’s) best foot forward. I have a certain respect for surfing and its rejuvenating purity that makes the debauchery especially offensive. So it bothers me when imagery and behavior like this so boldly perverts our passion. And that’s not to say the U.S. Open of Surfing didn’t have inspiring moments.

Courtney Conlogue and Carissa Moore battled to the final horn for the 2013 US Open of Surfing Championship. Photos: Michael Llalande

Courtney Conlogue and Carissa Moore battled to the final horn for the 2013 US Open of Surfing Championship. Photos: Michael Llalande

The women’s final essentially WAS the story of the event (before the riot, at least). Carissa Moore and Courtney Conlogue battled fiercely down to the wire, and their showmanship did its part in restoring the focus to the surf. Alejo Muniz’s win over Kolohe Andino was also inspiring despite the lackluster surf.

And I’d like to focus on surfing at the US Open of Surfing, but I cannot. I don’t think anyone can. It’s impossible. I mean, what’s more memorable? Kolohe’s heat, the fights and riots, or that Facebook picture?

Read 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater’s opinion on the Huntington Beach riots as well as  2-Time US Open Champion Brett Simpson’s perspective.


  • Sam

    As a local it has gotten really bad this summer even before this. I wouldn’t say it is Huntington Beach’s fault, there’s a lot more degenerates coming out to the beach during the summer months that it is really troublesome to live here during that time.

    • L.H.

      I have to agree as a local myself. I stopped going down to the beach for a lot of reasons and then the riot that happened earlier this evening… :

  • SenselessNoise

    Completely bypassed HB this summer… too many bro’s and bro-ho’s coming out of the IE that are making it intolerable.

  • CWW

    To local resident’s of Huntington Beach, please attend the local town meetings to discuss the underlying issues that led to this event. Please voice your concerns and suggest feasible and reasonable solutions to preventing this type of violence. Make your attendance and participation at these meetings continuous so that city officials get the point that the factors (social, political, cultural, etc.) directly linked to this event, and other similar events, need to be addressed now.

  • Scarlett

    That classless picture was not from this event. It was posted on Reddit 3 months ago. http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/1cluju/knuckle_deep_on_the_beach_during_spring_break_nsfw/

    …and was part of a caption contest over a year ago. http://nyc.barstoolsports.com/random-thoughts/caption-contest-71/

    It probably still represents the debauchery that was happening, but using it inaccurately seems like irresponsible journalism. The internet makes it so easy for rumor to become fact and no one stops to check. In this case, it’s harmless, but overall is a little scary.

  • Genghis

    Unfortunately, this is a result of the mindset that is propogated and fostered by the action sports brands themselves. Rail against authority, push it to the extreme, etc… Then they donate money to Surfrider so that they can say they believe in being environmentally responsible. I am sorry to say that surfing is largely a culture of meatheads.

    • axel

      none of these people were surfers…. surfers from this area would never walk down mainstreet after the event in huge possees. Rather they avoid the crowded mess entirely and usually go straight home. Even watch the video of people pushing the Porta – Pottys over and the guy throws up a gang sign and says “west side train town” or something like that. These people are from the Inland Empire and had no respect for the city of HB. Im a surfer, i garuntee these people were not

      • jonesinto

        You may be correct to a degree but Genghis has a valid point. I grew up going to lakes, watersking, etc. You can go to just about any lake these days and see a massive change from when I was young. The action sports industry brought in a whole bunch of white trash. I call them the flat bills. They are’t lake people, or boating people. They are simply on the lake to get drunk, get high, bang chicks and then take a wakeboard run a couple times a day. The action sport industry has ruined many lakes. They are doing it to surfing as well. But hey, as long as they get their money from the dudes in raised trucks, everything is awesome.

      • Stu Azole

        half of those arrested were from the OC. But really, you need to ask why the US Open includes bmx, skate and bands if you don’t want “these types” there? Answer – the brands behind surfing DO want these people to buyer their stuff and the US Open is intended to draw the masses. You get what you pay for.

    • hbmichael

      interesting point… but I think that this is an example of idiot kids and not idiot action sport kids. Same stuff goes on in college campuses after a huge win (or huge loss). Same stuff goes on in Canada after a huge hockey win (or huge loss). Combination of adrenaline, testosterone, lack of self confidence (needing to “fit in”), and likely alcohol all contribute. Sad but true.

  • Disrespectful Lunatic

    I’m curious how anyone is able to determine the area code of residence of any of the fools behaving poorly in this incident, or any other time people act like idiots in HB. How exactly, do you know where someone is from? Appearance? Behavior?

    I ask because the behavior above looks eerily similar to the douchebaggery perpetrated by many an Edison/HBHS/Marina alumnus at Spring Break in Havasu.

    The behavior is unacceptable regardless of where it happens or who does it, but I find the ingroup/outgroup mentality of HB locals disturbing. Nobody likes having a bunch of people descend on his front yard and start tearing it up. It’s disrespectful and rude, but I believe it’s more a function of the “Jackass” culture than of the area code one calls home. People seem to have an expectation that loud, shocking public behavior is expected and acceptable when one goes to a crowded public destination.

    • Lauren

      Oh my GOD, thank you so much for saying this more eloquently than I ever could. Orange County dwellers who consider themselves superior to anyone who lives 20 miles+ inland irk me to no end. In the end it’s not about the city, it’s about the surf and the Californian pride as a whole. Or simply the desire to not have such an ignorant and obnoxious American youth culture- because I KNOW Huntington Beach can’t boast it’s completely clean of that.

  • Lin

    sometimes I’m really happy to live in europe..

  • Corey Hammond

    HB is a disgrace to the “surf town USA” title it fought so hard to keep…

  • hbmichael

    I have lived in HB for 9 years now, after moving from the midwest. At first I tended to agree with you that it HAD to be more than just the “909ers” (a term I didn’t hear of until my first summer there). But after nearly a decade it is pretty clear that the madness, roid-rage fights, huge lifted trucks, and general douchebaggery increases 10x in the summer when throngs of tourists come in. Yesterday’s event was lunacy but by watching the 100s of videos it is clear it was done by a relatively small number of people (20-30 actually partaking, 400-500 filming).

  • Lauren

    I hope to God you’re not raising this kid you’re speaking of with that superior attitude of yours.

    • TheGDog

      If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck…. I’m callin’ it a duck. This is not to say that the 909 ONLY has trashy people in it. But when a person uses the derogatory term of a 909′er… everybody and their Mama knows the kind and type of class-less trash I’m talkin’ about. And BTW… in making your Reply post, one could most certainly argue that you’re being “the pot calling the kettle black” by insinuating your parenting skills are superior to my own (highly doubtful). The manner of ADULT banter, and the theme and tone of said banter is a wholly distinct entity separate and apart from how I pick and choose when to delicately address the inequities of this world in explaining things to my boy with wisdom and patience. P.S. It’s often been my experience that “holy-er than thou” types are most often thee most bigoted and elitist fucks on the planet. I hope in your case that’s not true…. Good Day!!!

      • Tim

        well said mate! i live in australia, dont even know what a 909er is but i get the drift. I believe there is a 10% dickhead factor everywhere, and sometimes events draw them out of the woodwork. as for your original statement, i cant agree more. as a parent of a young girl, although boy/girl, the issue is the same, i wouldnt want her to see this shit either. trashy ppl are trashy, whatever the colour of their skin. just so happens these ones are predominantly white. young kids dont need to be exposed to crap like this. Laurens reply to you is right out of line, and so judgemental its kind of weird as i cant see the basis for it. there were numerous posts much worse than this that she could comment on but for some reason singled you out. maybe she is of the religious right, and yep, they can be very annoying at times w their attitude. Any one who is fundamentalist in belief is, in my opinion, dangerous, whatever the religion/belief. so, your statement to me was fair. im with you. hope you had a blast building sandcastles with your son!

  • Mark

    could not agree more. the 909 is permanently a part of HB…

  • jonesinto

    Let me guess, you have never lived in LA. Raised trucks and affliction shirts in Santa Monica and Hermosa? Come on now. Take a trip past the orange curtain and you might actually get to know LA more than what you hear about it from other OC people

  • Photoman

    @Jones you were ok until you added Pit Bulls..They can’t choose you has them, because if they could it wouldn’t be these people!

  • McDowell2

    yeah he says so in the article. Did you even read it?

  • Anthony

    First of all, this has NOTHING at all to do with surfing, nor the surfing crowd. This is about hooligans.

    This is not a 909er problem or a HB problem, it is a YOUTH problem. These are the byproduct of an overindulgent spoiled society of children that have never had to face any real consequences. Perhaps if parents were made to take responsibility for their non parenting habits and teach their children accountability, we wouldn’t have these issues from youth from the 714, 909, 949, or where ever they might be from. Their actions were deplorable, and i hope severely punished

    • Jordan

      Achievement Unlocked: Invent the wheel

  • cassy n

    i live in downtown hb, and know tons of people in the downtown area, everyone who lives here was fed up with the open and the crowd it draws. something like 15 million people come here throughout the week, there is only 250,000 in hb, so its obv not locals, most locals avoid it, im sorry to say i dont know where these people lived but its not here. most people around here are fiercely proud of their of this city and dont destroy it. we all have our bad eggs but our bad eggs steal bikes n do drugs they dont riot. im not saying it was all visitors but i can say with confidence it was mostly people who dont live around here.

    • Stu Azole

      15 million people? Really? LOL.

  • cassy n

    and i lived in overseas for 6 yrs and ive lived in la county n riverside county… so i realize people can suck anywhere, but people do suck differently in different places, even city to city, it is a different mentality, wierd but true…

  • Patrick Hasburgh

    I used to live in Malibu… but I find the USA virtually uninhabitable… I live in central west coast Mexico… and despite its infamous problems, it’s nirvana compared to SoCal… warm water, great waves, a very low kook count. Once a year we go up and visit my mom in Carlsbad—for two weeks—and that’s plenty. Way too many people up there.

  • Tandem SurfandSport Australia

    Fuckin idiots…Seriously this event should have ticket access only…And the gate shared with the city.

  • Malia

    That photo of the nasty people kissing is from of spring breakers in florida in 2012.

    • Sheila

      Are you sure?

      • herbertcarmuse

        It’s even older than that. But I guess those kind of things happen everywhere!

        • Sheila

          You are right. It looks as though this photo is a few years old and credited to a Florida Spring Break couple. Maybe the author of this story should have fact checked a bit better.

  • General Chan

    Barack Obama…

  • General Chan

    Notice that the masses were white. Not to be racists or anything. =

    • Brian

      Actually it was a very diverse group of people from around the world….. What the hell is white anymore? Did you notice That out of sixty thousand or so at the event that there is only maybe a thousand or so people being involved in this schmuckery?

  • Chugga Kahn

    This is what happens when a whole generation on kids who stare at their phones and computers all day actually have to go outside and get along with one another. The result. Bozo’s. With that being said, my generation is screwed.

    • Stu Azole

      because there were never riots before cell phones, and definitely not at the beach in Huntington at a surf comp.

  • cjaooooo

    It’s a shame when people disrespect a sport. It’s a shame when people associate the bum/alcoholic/irresponsible lifestyle to a sport. And it’s a shame when people use their aspirations for that lifestyle to disrupt and destroy a peaceful community.
    Seems like not many people know what “respect” means.

  • Stu Azole

    so far, half the guys arrested are from the OC. Now how do you distance yourselves from this HB? White trash OUT!

  • Stu Azole

    yet half the guys arrested are from the OC. Hmmm.

  • Stu Azole

    Was just thinking that the last good thing to come out of HB was Nicole Eggert. Not the big one of today, but that smokin hot young one from Charles In Charge.

  • Alexis Hay

    OMG what about all the people that were in those locked porta potties???!!!! they could have chemical burns!!!

  • Alexis Hay

    LOL!

  • Austin Wells

    You need to realize most of the city didn’t go to the series. We know better. After the 4th of July, we’re done with crowds. These are all people coming into town by the masses. Locals hang out at houses during the weekend. Throwing water balloons, smiling, and having a good time.

  • Austin Wells

    All these post make me sick. As someone that was born in Fontana, and has more class than you, makes me feel it’s stereotypical. I’ve lived in Boca Raton, Brentwood, met the President, First Lady, lived in HB 6 out of the last 9 years, and know how to use utensils with etiquette, I can say I know people that are more civilized than this witch hunt.

  • the_69rza

    We refer to HB as Palmdale with a pier. It’s really the armpit of the OC beach cities. I don’t know whats worst the racism (skin heads), meth addicts or the bums just to name a few. True Bro’s from the IE do make the place closer to a living hell but don’t ignore the idiot black hat Bro’s that are from HB as well. I don’t get why people that live in HB feel the strong need to brag about it.

  • John

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? That was not HB locals, they were trash from wherever they’re from. Notice HB has nice streets and nice buildings? It’s cause we don’t dump outhouses over! You idiots.

    HB locals even stopped some rioters from stealing from a bike shop.