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Unruly Crowds Clash With California Police

Unruly crowds in Huntington Beach damaged property and clashed with police Sunday night following the close of a major surf competition.

Witnesses said a rowdy group of young men threw bottles, tipped over portable toilets and looted at least one store before police dressed in riot gear quelled the disturbance. Witnesses said police used tear gas and non-lethal projectiles to clear the crowds.

Police said the unrest began when a fight broke out at about 7 p.m., shortly after the conclusion of the eight-day U.S. Open of Surfing, which brought thousands of spectators to the Huntington Beach boardwalk. They did not provide details on whether there had been injuries or arrests.

One witness, Russ Mundi, who attended the surfing contest, said police fired what smelled like tear gas after the crowd defied orders to leave. "I heard shots going off, and the whole crowd just started running," he said.

Another witness said he watched as a group of men tore a stop sign from the ground and used it to break into a bicycle shop. At least one bicycle was stolen, the witness said, before local residents showed up and persuaded the looters to stop.

Huntington Beach police requested backup from neighboring agencies. Police said they had the disturbance under control by 9:30 p.m.

This was not the first time Huntington Beach police have squared off with young people following a surf event.

In 1986, hundreds of youths went on a rampage on the final day of the Ocean Pacific Pro Surfing Contest. They pelted police with rocks and bottles, stormed a lifeguard station and overturned and burned police cars.

At least 12 people were injured and nine arrests were made.

Copyright 2013 - Los Angeles Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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