NJ lawmaker calls on Murphy to save shore from pop-up party madness
LONG BRANCH — A Jersey Shore lawmaker is calling on the Murphy administration and NJ Transit to take action in the wake of a viral pop-up party that resulted in arrests and a curfew in this oceanfront city on Saturday.
The chaos in Long Branch, a week before Memorial Day and the unofficial start to the summer shore season, resulted in at least 15 arrests and the massive deployment of law enforcement. Police on the scene used tactical gear and resorted to a flash-bang and smoke to help disperse an unruly crowd.
City officials also enacted an overnight curfew from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. City officials said the Pier Village development near the beach was cleared by 10:17 p.m.
“Our shore towns are at constant risk of spontaneous surges of young partiers that flood the streets, intimidate residents and visitors, disrupt businesses and overwhelm local law enforcement,” state Sen. Bob Singer, R-Ocean, said Sunday in a written statement. “The task force will help bring the organizers to justice and end the fear created by this chaos.”
“This is not a case of getting some people together and going to the shore, it’s an orchestrated criminal act. These are organized incidents, promoted with flyers and posts all over social media calling for people to ‘bring your booze, bring you marijuana, and let’s go to Long Branch.’"
The eleven adults and four juveniles charged on Saturday were accused of engaging in fighting. One suspect was charged with stomping on a police vehicle.
Last June, police had to shut down a similarly massive beach party and make arrests.
Singer, voicing a worry shared by many shore officials, said situations like the one Saturday night could undermine the state's summer tourism.
“It’s not even the summer season yet. We’ve got to be ahead of this, and as a shore legislator, I’m asking the governor for help now,” Singer said. “Every time we have confrontations like this, there’s a risk of people getting hurt. If we don’t take swift action, this problem will get out of hand and threaten to disrupt the vital shore economy at the worst time imaginable.”
Gov. Phil Murphy had not issued any statement on Long Branch as of early Sunday afternoon.
Long Branch Public Safety Director Domingos Saldida said Sunday that city officials were developing a plan to address pop-up parties, which have been a bane for shore communities for years — even before social media seemingly exacerbated it. He said the goal would be to issue a plan that other shore communities could also implement.
"The Police Department was always prepared for this event. However, going forward we will be communicating with local, county, and state agencies as this is not just an issue exclusive to Long Branch and is seen throughout the state," the city's police department said Sunday in a written statement.
Saldida said as many as 5,000 people crowded into Long Branch on Saturday, many of them "out-of-towners" from Essex County.
Singer cited reports indicating that at least one NJ Transit train carried a thousand teenagers to Long Branch.
Singer said NJ Transit would have to be involved with a statewide task force addressing this problem.
“New Jersey Transit has to be involved. Thousands of the troublemakers are coming in on NJ Transit,” Singer said. “We’re going to need everybody working together to get this under control.”
Special town hall this Thursday
The chaos in Long Branch this year comes as New Jersey begins its first summer after greenlighting the sale of recreational marijuana.
New Jersey 101.5 will broadcast a special town hall at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss what New Jersey can expect this summer at the shore.
The program, which will be carried on Facebook Live, will include tourism officials, local mayors, law enforcement and travel experts.