Disturbances In '13 Lead Organizers To Scale Down Events Surrounding U.S. Open Of Surfing
Huntington Beach, Calif., police, city officials and event organizers have "expressed confidence" that their preparations for the U.S. Open of Surfing, which begins Friday, will "prevent a repeat of the civil disturbances that followed" last year's event, according to Anthony Clark Carpio of the Huntington Beach INDEPENDENT. Some downtown residents were "already angered by the sometimes rowdy and unruly attendees at the annual celebration, but they were pushed over the edge when a disturbance erupted at the end of the final day of last summer's competition." Thousands of dollars in damage and 20 arrests "resulted from the violence and vandalism." But IMG Senior VP & Action Sports Dir James Leitz said that he has "addressed many of the issues that could have led to last year's disturbance." Leitz during a Downtown Task Force meeting in November said that the "footprint of the event would be downsized significantly, and he would do away with several features, including live music and the public skateboarding bowl." Leitz also "significantly reduced the number of beach vendors and barred alcohol sales and consumption at the venue." Leitz said, "The plan that was presented early on during the (Downtown) Task Force meeting in November and the plan that was further evolved in the April meeting is what we're holding onto" (Huntington Beach INDEPENDENT, 7/22). Police officers last year "fired pepper balls and nonlethal projectiles at rioters as they broke through glass storefronts and overturned portable toilets." Several officers "sustained minor injuries, and one person was treated and released from a hospital after being hit by a rubber projectile" (L.A. TIMES, 7/22).