Long Branch – On May 21, thousands of teens and young adults arrived in the city for a beach party that was organized on social media. The result was a riot that took place in Pier Village with business closings, police car damaged, city curfew, police from all over Monmouth County and State Troopers responding to assist the Long Branch Police Department. Over a dozen individuals were arrested that night.
At the May 25, city council meeting Public Safety Director Domingos Saldia stated that an arrest was made of one of the party organizers. He stated that the accused was a former resident of the city.
Today, Louis Rainone, city attorney, stated that Jason Galsper was one of the organizers of the beach party that was arrested the night of the riot and issued a disorderly person’s sitation. Rainone also stated that the city filed a formal lawsuit against a dozen people they believe were also involved in organizing the beach party.
According to Rainone, he thinks this is the first time the city has filed a civil lawsuit against individuals. “We are going after them as they violated our city ordnance for special events,” said Rainone. Long Branch actually has rules about holding events in public spaces, which requires permits, insurance and if needed police officers.
The beach party advertisements on social media stated free food, music, dance contests, paid fights, and encouraged attendees to bring their own alcohol and marijuana. Long Branch police estimated that over 5,000 persons descended on the city during that May 21 party. These events are known as pop up parties, and organizers earn money on the amount of people that like and share their content.
“Their actions have also harmed our city’s businesses and reputation. So, they should be held responsible,” John Pallone, Mayor, stated in a prepared statement from the city on June 8. Pallone went on to say that they estimated that it cost taxpayers of Long Branch $25,000 for police response and clean-up. That’s why Long Branch filed a civil suit against the individuals they believe are the organizers of the event. Rainone also felt that the city is the first municipality to take such legal action as they have a strong special events ordnance.
June of last year was the first time a pop up party hit the city. Saldida stated that they were unprepared for that event, but were ready for the May 21st party. “We shared information with the New Jersey State Police, Monmouth County Prosecutor and Sheriff and had nearby agencies on standby,” said Saldida. Long Branch, which has one of the biggest police departments in Monmouth County was not big enough to handle the thousands who arrived for the chaos associated with the beach party.
“Enough is enough,” said Saldida in the press release. “These viral parties are likely to get bigger and more dangerous until we do something about it. Hopefully, making the organizers pay the price for their behavior will deter them from putting together an unpermitted, illegal event in Long Branch.”
At the May 25, council meeting residents asked why the train station couldn’t be closed, or why the city didn’t close the beach parking lots. Rainone stated that New Jersey Transit, which receives federal funds, is not permitted by law to stop transporting people to Long Branch. He said others, besides those going to the beach party rely on trains for transportation.
Pallone said that they didn’t want to close the parking lots because that would force all the cars onto city streets, creating more issues for residents.
During the meeting other residents asked why the National Guard was not called, and why the city couldn’t assign a specific beach for the party. Rainone stated that only the Governor could activate the National Guard and has strict guidelines on when they can be activated and that the situation on May 21, did not meet those guidelines.
Pallone stated that Long Branch is open to all kinds of events, but rules must be followed to keep property and people safe. “If you want to have a gathering, apply for a special event permit. Don’t drink alcohol in public or smoke on our beaches. Don’t engage in disorderly conduct. The organizers of the May 21 event broke all those rules and put our city in harm’s way. This is why it’s so important that we hold them accountable,” said Pallone.
There are rumors that organizers of the May 21 party are planning another event on June 19 either in Long Branch or Point Beach. Paul Kanitra, mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, stated that he and other mayors had conversations with the Governor and Attorney General in regards to what the state can do to help municipalities with these pop up parties. Kanitra stated that he received no help from the politicians and was told by the attorney general to be careful of what he says about the pop up parties and organizers. However, Kanitra said that his police department will enforce every local ordnance and state law.
On May 21 after a pop up party on the beach, police closed off all entrances to Pier Village.