Saturday, May 29, 2021

Adrian's Kickback in Huntington Beach! (VIDEO)

Riots in Huntington Beach are de rigueur, but this one seems extra special, heh. 

Partiers came from out of town, far and wide. Not sure if young folks flew in from out of state, but earlier reports of arrest records said most of those detained were not locals. And it turns out Adrien Lopez, the TikToker who got this party started, was a no show, heh.

At LAT, "A viral TikTok video brought chaos to Huntington Beach. Officials fear it’s just the beginning":

Huntington Beach has dealt with wild parties, drunken melees and political unrest.

But nothing prepared officials for “Adrian’s kickback,” which started as a simple birthday party for an Inland Empire teenager and turned into a viral TikTok event that drew thousands to the beach last week — though not Adrian Lopez, who in the days leading up to the party was increasingly nervous about all the attention.

When it was over, more than 175 people were arrested, city officials and merchants were adding up the damage, and everyone was wondering who should be blamed and who should be billed.

The way Adrian’s birthday invitation went viral has alarmed city leaders, who say they are not sure how to deal with it. City Councilman Dan Kalmick is angry that police resources and taxpayer dollars were spent on what he called a prank. He said they have no easy answers for how to cope with the next viral video unleashed on popular platforms like TikTok that can get millions of views within days.

“It goes to the fact that government isn’t structured to deal with an amorphous entity of folks,” Kalmick said. “This wasn’t like a concert where we could talk to a promoter and issue a permit. When you have folks who don’t have a command or control structure, how does a city or police department manage that? I’m just not sure.”

“Adrian’s kickback” speaks to the power of the TikTok social media algorithm, which sent a post about the teen’s birthday far and wide. But it’s also in many ways a sign of the pent-up energy of young people desperate for fun after more than a year of pandemic lockdown.

“People my age haven’t gone out in a year,” said Edgar Peralta, an 18-year-old Downey resident who went to last Saturday’s party but said he does not condone the debauchery that ensued. “It was to get the ball rolling. This is the start of summer.”

The origin story of what became three days of unrest in downtown Huntington Beach is a familiar one.

For his 17th birthday, Adrian wanted to kick back with friends from school at the fire pits in Huntington Beach. Beach party celebrations are a tradition for many Southern California teens. But what happened last weekend was anything but ordinary.

The high schooler’s invitation was picked up by TikTok’s “For You” algorithm and viewed by people across the country. The announcement was curious: Who was this mystery teen, and would anyone actually go to his party? Some TikTok users, including internet celebrities, began posting about it, and videos with the hashtag #adrianskickback have since drawn more than 326 million views.

On Saturday night, roughly 2,500 teenagers and young adults — some who say they drove for hours or flew in from other states — converged on the Huntington Beach Pier and downtown area in a gathering that devolved into mayhem.

Partygoers blasted fireworks into a mob in the middle of Pacific Coast Highway, jumped on police cars, scaled palm trees and flag poles and leapt from the pier into throngs of people below to crowd-surf. A window at CVS was smashed, businesses were tagged with graffiti, and the roof of Lifeguard Tower 13 collapsed after it was scaled.

“It was a festival atmosphere, but there was nothing to cause the end of it and that was the problem,” said Neil Broom, 53, who watched the revelry unfold as he checked in on restaurant staff at Duke’s Huntington Beach. “Literally they were playing in traffic on PCH.”

Authorities spotted the party announcement when it began circulating last week and immediately began staffing up in preparation for what was being billed as a weekend-long event. In all, more than 150 officers from nearly every police agency in Orange County were called out to the beach Saturday night to help get the crowd under control.

Clashes with police broke out Saturday, and officers fired rubber bullets and pepper projectiles as they tried to disperse the crowd. Eventually, authorities issued an overnight curfew to clear the streets. Partygoers also descended on Surf City on Friday and Sunday, but Saturday brought the largest group. The majority of those taken into custody over the weekend were not from Orange County, police said.

The pier and downtown district have seen more than their share of problems over the years.

In 2013, violence broke out downtown after the US Open of Surfing. People smashed shop windows, pelted police with debris and tipped portable toilets into the roadway. The next year, organizers stopped hosting live music at the contest and limited alcohol sales in an effort to tamp down on potential illegal activity.

But Adrian’s kickback was different.

Interim Police Chief Julian Harvey said he’s planned meetings with representatives from social media platforms, including TikTok, to identify ways for law enforcement to collaborate with the sites in an effort to “minimize the potential for incidents such as this to happen again in the future.”

A representative for TikTok did not provide a comment about “Adrian’s kickback” or any communication with city officials.

Many in Huntington Beach have questioned why so many young people would travel to attend a party for someone they don’t know. One reason is to simply get out of the house post-pandemic, but the human desire to be part of something big plays a role as well, said Karen North, a professor of social media at USC...

Sill more.