Ever wonder if the allegations of violence and vandalism at Lunada Bay are just a bunch of media hype? Don’t take it from news stories. Dig in to dozens of statements made in support of the class action lawsuit against the Bay Boys, filed just before the new year and made available by the plaintiff’s attorneys online.
The declarations come from lawyers, retired correctional officers, therapists, former sponsored bodyboarders — in other words, regular surfers who just wanted to snag a few of the quality rights that peel through the cove on big winter swells. And who say that the bullying, name-calling and physical assault they faced often prevented them from returning.
That part is critical, because the plaintiffs are seeking damages of “$50 to $80” for every time a surfer claims they were affected. The amount could add up. In their estimation given the number of surfers and other people in Southern California who might want to visit, the bay should see at least 20,000 annual visitors. Yet, Lunada Bay is surfed by a fraction of the surfers who, localism notwithstanding, would want to paddle out there. The plaintiffs claim just 100 surfers regularly surf the spot.
The documents were filed as part of the plaintiffs’ bid to convince a federal judge to recognize the class of affected people so that the suit can proceed. It’s the most detailed look yet at the wrongs surfers say they suffered. It’s also the most fine-grained view of how the plaintiffs will try to prove their case, if the lawsuit proceeds to trial, which is penciled in for next October. Aside from statements, the documents include excerpts of emails and texts sent between Bay Boys that the plaintiffs allege show how they organized their gang-like efforts.
Taken together, the statements paint a picture of localism that, according to one declaration, is worse than the heaviest localized spots on the North Shore of Oahu. In terms of hospitality, that would put it somewhere between V-Land and Ciudad Juarez.
For those who’d rather not sift through hundreds of pages of legalese (it’s a masochistic pleasure), we’ve pulled out a few of the juiciest morsels for you:
1) The plaintiffs allege that the Bay Boys have existed as a gang since the 1970s, when they codified a set of territorial rules they “will die by.”
“They haze those who seek to join, including making them ‘drink frickin’ piss to see how bad you want to be in this fraternity,’” according to the documents.
2) Palos Verdes Estates Police Chief Jeff Kepley agrees there “may be some truth” to the fact that the Bay Boys are “like an organized street gang.” Yet he’s been stifled in his efforts to police them. The plaintiffs allege that when Kepley took over the department, he brought the Bay Boys to the attention of the police and city council, but was met with a barrage of criticism and letters from alleged Bay Boys asking for his resignation. Not surprisingly, according to the material “Many current and former City police officers grew up with Bay Boys,” one told Christopher Taloa, the surfer who organized a trip to Lunada Bay via Facebook, “We own the cops.”
3) One plaintiff claims the Bay Boys rained rocks down on him from the bluff top as he walked down to the water. A rock struck his head, causing him to bleed. He says a Bay Boy told him: “Get your fucking brown ass out of here. You’re going to attract sharks. You’re bleeding, man.”
When he left the water he called the police to lodge a report. When an officer arrived, “I saw him pull something off his chest and put it into his pocket; I believe he was removing his name tag,” the plaintiff said. When the officer learned that he lived in Manhattan Beach, “the officer told him ‘maybe you shouldn’t be surfing here.’”