Cops And Bros Clashing In Surf City: A Historical Timeline

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John Gilhooley
Despite being significant enough to get nationwide news play, this past weekend's riots in Huntington Beach are child's play compared to what's gone down in previous summers in Surf City. Over the past 20 years, bros and cops have taken turns acting like jerks. A quick version goes like this: First, starting in 1986, the bros got out of hand, then the cops started cracking skulls, then things eased up and now the bros (including one soon-to-be-ex-Fullerton firefighter) are back at being douchebags again.

Click on through for the timeline in all its brotastic glory...

Aug. 31, 1986: Drunk bros start running through a crowd of onlookers at the Ocean Pacific Pro-Surfing Championships, ripping bikini tops off various gals. Fighting ensues, cops are quickly overwhelmed, and the crowd topples some lifeguard towers and burn a couple of police cruisers. The cops, who put framed photographs of the flaming vehicles in their headquarters, vow never to let that happen again.

July 4, 1993: Bros take over Huntington Beach's increasingly rowdy Independence Day Celebration. They decide to celebrate America's birth by burning furniture on street corners. Police, five of whom are injured in clashes with the bros, arrest 40 of them.

July 4, 1995: Having apparently taken the previous year off, the bros come back to burn some couches on the street. This time, cops arrest 100 bros. They get sued for police brutality after wading into a crowd with batons.

July 4, 1996: The cops did some research and discovered a loophole in a long-forgotten city ordinance allows them to arrest anybody drinking a beer in their front yard, unless said yard is surrounded by a fence. They arrest hundreds of people, many of them bros, and force them to spend the night in a Guantanamo Bay-type open holding cell, minus the portable toilets. Fewer couches catch fire this year. Yay, freedom!

July 4, 2003: Notice a pattern here? Bros love July 4th. 90 of them get arrested, newspapers report.

July 22, 2008: Bros brawl and someone gets hurt with a lead pipe.

July 4, 2009: The OC Register says 69 people, presumably including a lot of bros, are arrested, mostly for drinking in public.

Between 2009 and this year, bros continue to get arrested in relatively small numbers each July 4th, with 2012 being the peak year, with more than 50 arrests made. Clearly, the bros did not learn their lesson, as this year's US Open of Surfing riots make clear. According to the pattern, next summer, the cops will be back to busting bros big-time again.

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