A Wave of Stupid Hits Huntington Beach

This is not going to be a detached report on what happened in my home town last night.

It started after the US Open of surfing ended on the beach around 5pm. This is an annual event which turns the beach into an kind of outdoor mall with thousands of kids in swimsuits. After the event ended, the crowd eventually made their way up the beach onto Main street at which point someone apparently dropped a ketchup bottle on people below from a 2nd story restaurant. It’s still not clear why but this apparently led to a fight in the street with people cheering on the combatants, both of whom appear to be high school aged kids.

And then the crowd psychology started taking over. You can see in the video below how normal behavior was gradually abandoned in favor of a riot impulse. First a couple kids run across the tops of porta-potties lined up on the street. Then one kid decides to kick one of them over. This leads to whoops and cheers and then a half dozen dummies are kicking porta-potties as the crowd gradually works itself up. None of these kids looks older than 20. Why? Because they’re behaving like chimps.

Of course things escalated from there. After the porta-potties, police called in support from surrounding areas and tried to take back control of the streets. This led to a standoff with rioters again trying to work themselves up to do something even stupider. The finally decided to tear up street signs and vandalize a shop window and a city vehicle.

Sadly, only eight people were arrested last night. The number obviously could have been much higher. But this is a good example of the fact that riots aren’t necessarily a sign of social injustice or the lack of anything except sufficient adult socialization. In this case it was just a case of too many teenage idiots at the beach, many of them from out of town.