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A pop-up party in Long Branch on May 21, 2022. (Photo: Exit 82 Scanner News).

Long Branch files lawsuit to stop pop-up party organizers

By David Wildstein, June 09 2022 1:27 pm

Long Branch has filed a lawsuit against online promoters of a June 19 pop-up party in a bid to prevent of a repeat of a similar event last month that drew a crowd of about 5,000 people and led to arrests, fights, and the closings of local businesses.

The city wants a judge to order the promoters  to stop advertising next week’s event, which is set to start at noon and end “whenever” and urges attendees  bring their own alcohol and beer.

The lawsuit alleges that Wavell Thompson of East Orange, Kevin Small of Middlesex, Jayson Glasper of Tinton Falls, Akeil T. Anderson, Semya Gill, and Jaylen Courten, a minor, failed to obtain a permit in violation of a local ordinance, created a public nuisance, negligence, and civil conspiracy.

“Using social media to spread flyers advertising the event and generate word-of-mouth awareness, these individuals, in particular Mr. Thompson, organized and encouraged as many attendees as possible to come to the City of Long Branch to drink, use drugs, fight and generally behave in a disorderly manner,” the city claims in their court filing.

One flier advertises “music, food, fun, dance battles, and a $1,000.00 twerk contest.”

“It is clear from the flyers and continued social media posts that the organizers of these events have no concern for the safety of their attendees and seek solely to capitalize on the chaos and disorder for their own commercial, personal and financial gain,” the city claims.

Thompson allegedly has used multiple accounts on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook to “promote these events and encourage the destruction of property, fighting, public consumption of drugs and alcohol, and other illegal activities for their own commercial benefit and in violation of local ordinances and laws.”

Long Branch claims that Thompson was among those responsible for the May 21 pop-up party, where thousands of attendees “forced their way past the badge checkers to take over the beaches and the boardwalk area known as Pier Village.” Some attendees harassed cars and pedestrians I the area.

The promoters are encouraging “YouTube stars” and “influencers” to attend and use video from the parties on social media, the city says.

“At least one YouTube artist, BandManRill, used this opportunity to record footage to be used in a music video that was later posted online and directly referenced the Long Branch ‘Beach Linkup,’ the lawsuit alleges.

According to the city, “the situation at the beach quickly escalated” and the crowds became too much for local police to handle on their own  Just before 7 PM, Long Branch sought the help of police from neighboring towns, and by 7:15PM asked the State Police for assistance.

“In the ensuing chaos, a number of arrests were made while the focus shifted to attempting to disperse the crowds of young and intoxicated participants,” the city said in a court filing.  “Businesses in the area were closed, the streets were shut down, and at some point during the evening individuals began vandalizing the area resulting in thousands of dollars of damages and store windows in Pier Village being smashed.”

Domingos Saldida, the Long branch public safety director, said in court filings  non-permitted events with the city in danger and that organizers have not received the proper permit.

Long Branch claims that many of the attendees used New Jersey Transit and “refused to pay the appropriate fare before exiting the train at Long Branch station.”

“New Jersey Transit workers were vastly outnumbered by the crowds and could do nothing to prevent them from exiting without payment,” the complaint alleges.

Long Branch is represented by Rainone Coughlin Minchello.

Senate Majority Conference Leader Vin Gopal (D-Long Brach) has introduced a bill that would hold promoters of pop-up parties responsible for damages and police overtime.  Other lawmakers, including Assemblywomen Kim Eulner (R-Shrewsbury) and Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck), who also represent Long Branch) say the pop-up parties – and a curfew order imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy – have hurt local businesses who have been forced to close early.

Another Jersey shore mayor, Paul Kanitra of Point Pleasant Beach, is concerned about a pop-up party on June 18, the day before the event in Long Branch, and has blamed state government for the problem.

“They have screwed up our marijuana laws, they have screwed up our liquor laws, so that young kids feel like they can just walk down the street ripping shots and taking hits without any worries,” Kanitra said in a flier distributed to local residents.

Murphy said that the state is working on dealing with pop-up parties.

“You’re coming out of a pandemic where people are desperate to get back out and scream from the highest mountains and get back in with other people,” Murphy said.  “I get that and we have to figure out responsible ways for that to happen.”

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