Huntington Beach riots: Was it caused by the skaters?

When riots broke out at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, the competition went sour. The eight-day contest draws enthusiasts of all kinds to join in the surf, skate, and BMX competitions as well as live music events. The event typically goes off without a hitch, but as crowds were dispersing on the final day of the event this year, rioting ensued.

U.S. Open representatives said they were extremely disappointed by the disturbance that occurred on Main Street after the event. According to police reports, rioters were throwing bottles at police, pushing over portable toilets, breaking windows of cars, and attempting to loot stores. One man used a downed stop sign to break the window of Easyrider Bike Shop. Once tear gas was dispersed, police were able to gain control of the crowd and make eight arrests. Suspects are being charged with assault, vandalism, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Event attendees said the crowds seemed larger and more rowdy than usual. Some locals even said that after years of holding peaceful events, the riots may have been caused by the more boisterous skaters. Some locals are pointing the finger at the general culture of rebellion that surfing, skating and BMX embrace. Police are unsure what sparked the riots. Some witnesses say it was a fight that escalated and others say young kids were just lashing out nonsensically. But is it fair to point the finger at the riding culture?

The U.S. open brings in an estimated $16 million and half a million surf fans travel to Huntington Beach every summer. Talks have focused on how to prepare for next year with mutual aid. There has not been any move to cancel the event.