Thousands flock to Pt. Pleasant Beach party: 6 arrested, mayor gets tough
The mayor of Point Pleasant Beach promised to get tough with bad behavior and people who treat the town like "an absolute toilet" after large crowds descended on the beach hours after Gov. Phil Murphy lifted his "stay-at-home" executive order on Tuesday resulting in six arrests.
Mayor Paul Kanitra said on his Facebook page that the crowd was a “clear violation of social-distancing requirements,” exceeding the new outdoor gathering limit of 100 people. He said law enforcement was brought in to disperse the crowd. Six people were arrested on charges related to drugs or drinking.
In a video statement on his Facebook page Wednesday morning, the mayor said he received complaints about people urinating in bushes, smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol and leaving behind trash.
Five people who had visited the shore town were later involved in a car crash in Newark that left three dead.
Kanitra praised police for keeping a "volatile situation" under control and said there was no property damage or civil unrest. He and police chief Joseph Michigan both said there was no property or businesses damaged by the crowd or any civil unrest.
A Twitter user posted pictures showing people standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the beach.
"First and foremost, let's take race completely out of this discussion. I personally won't tolerate any residents or anyone else for that matter bringing up the color of anyone's skin when we're talking about yesterday's situation," Kanitra said.
He said the bottom line was that no one is going to make the borough a dumping ground regardless of what they look like or where they live.
"At the heart of the matter we had a bunch of disrespectful young people looking for a good time and not caring at all how they acted in the process. That's what matters," the mayor said.
He said in order to keep "young idiots from scaring away respectful families" with "spring break" behavior, summonses will be issued for the behavior displayed on Tuesday.
"This is, and always will be, a family oriented town for people from all walks of life and not a haven for young idiots who can't control themselves. I will do whatever is necessary to ensure that," the mayor said.
Kanitra said the police department will soon add 30 officers who will monitor "quality of life" issues. He asked residents who see violations to call police first and not post about it online.
"Every time someone comes here, does something they shouldn't and goes home without any repercussions, it's an invitation for them to come back and do it again and again," he said.
Michigan said police saw crowds of young adults grow through the afternoon to be in the "thousands." Mutual aid was brought in from nearby towns.
The Asbury Park Press reported the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department flew a drone over the crowd and Brick police sent 10 officers.
Officers were stationed at each beach entrance to keep the crowd orderly, according to Michigan, who said people began to leave around 11 p.m.
The chief said an investigation was underway to determine "who may be responsible for organizing this beach party event."
Kanitra said in his initial message no arrests had been made. However, video posted to Instagram shows a young black man being led away in handcuffs followed by a large crowd.
Point Pleasant Beach police said on Wednesday that six people were arrested and released.
- Shayla Jackson, 24, of Clifton, charged with drinking in public.
- Jaquay Little, 28, of New Brunswick, charged with possession of marijuana under 50 grams.
- Amanda Prophete, 23, of Carteret, charged with drinking in public.
- Haja Sannah, 24, of New Brunswick, charged with for DWI.
- Quiyon Stewart, 20, of Newark. charged with underage possession of alcohol.
- Lissett Vargas, 25, of Hillside, charged with possession of marijuana under 50 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia.
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