Chaos in Long Branch, NJ: Curfew enacted after rowdy crowd takes over
UPDATE: 15 arrested after police respond to pop-up party in Long Branch. Click here for latest story. Original story is below.
LONG BRANCH — The unofficial start of summer at the Jersey Shore — usually Memorial Day weekend — started a weekend earlier.
In a troubling repeat of what happened in June of last year, a pop-up party overwhelmed this Monmouth County beachfront community on Saturday, resulting in a massive presence of police in tactical gear and an emergency curfew.
What looked like throngs of revelers took over the Pier Village section of the city late Saturday afternoon before numerous police and emergency vehicles showed up.
In videos shared across social media, police could be seen lining up with protective gear as if they were responding to civil unrest.
Officials said city police sent out a call for help at about 5 p.m. Neighboring police departments, the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and the State Police responded to the area.
Authorities said a number of fights broke out but officials could not confirm how many people might have been arrested.
Officials said that crowds were being dispersed and that people were mostly cooperative.
New Jersey 101.5 on Saturday evening was not able to confirm whether police had used gas on the crowd, as at least one report on Twitter asserted. But video shared on TikTok appears to show some sort of gas being used.
One witness said on Facebook that there "were thousands of young adults but as far as we could see they were well behaved and polite."
Numerous videos on social media, however, show violence.
In one video, a young woman is punched from behind and after a brief fight is pummeled on the ground by a small crowd. This article is not linking to the video because it may identify an underage victim of a crime.
Curfew in Long Branch
The municipality issued a 9 p.m. curfew, announcing it on social media.
The curfew, which is in effect until 5 a.m., prohibits anyone from using, standing, sitting, traveling or being present on any public street or in any public place."
Music, fun, good vibez
Authorities believe that the crowds might have been the result of a celebration that was promoted on social media. A promotional post on Instagram called on people to bring their own liquor and weed to the Long Branch beach starting at noon on Sunday.
Last June, a party promoted online drew thousands of teens and young adults to Long Branch, resulting in a massive police response. The event also resulted in false rumors about rioting.
Officials last summer said that the June 19 commotion resulted in four misdemeanor arrests and no reports of property damage.
Summer of 2022
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 townhall 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.
New Jersey 101.5's Dan Alexander and Jordan Jansson contributed to this report.