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Huntington Beach City Council members created a $20,000 relief fund for businesses damaged by “Adrian’s Kickback” a couple weeks ago, which drew thousands of mostly young people to the beach. 

“We can use this $20,000 to really just sort of help them and really make a commitment to say we stand with you guys. We understand that this was a big impact to you and we want to help you,” said Mayor Kim Carr at Tuesday’s public City Council meeting.

The fund — coming from Covid money through the county —  is aimed at helping small business owners replace stolen and broken merchandise, clean up additional graffiti and replace equipment for Pier Plaza vendors, according to the agenda report.

But not everyone supported the relief fund idea brought to the council by Carr.

“I think it sets a bad precedent … Personally, I donate. But I’m not using city coffers to do it,” said Councilman Erik Peterson who voted against the recovery fund. “The next time we have something, you’re going to have people going where’s our $20,000?”

Carr said they should use the money to help local businesses while they still have the funds.

“We’re in a unique situation where we can help these folks out. That may not be the case next time or the time after that, but I do want to take advantage. If there’s a nickel on the table, I don’t want to send it back. I’d rather use it,” Carr said.

The City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to set up the relief fund, with Peterson dissenting. 

The vote took place after Councilmember Tito Ortiz resigned that same night.

In a Thursday phone interview, Carr said that the money will be coming from left over Covid dollars from the county and details on how to apply for it and the maximum amount a business could receive will be provided in the next couple of days.

A couple weeks ago, the notice of a birthday celebration dubbed “Adrian’s Kickback” went viral  on social media — chiefly TikTok — and brought thousands of people to Huntington Beach’s downtown pier area.

While hundreds of people showed up on May 21 and 23, the main celebration occurred on the 22nd and ended with scores of people in handcuffs after party goers shot off fireworks and damaged some businesses.

The ordeal made national headlines.

“While businesses in the downtown area were unfortunately vandalized, no significant injuries were reported. There was also minimal property damage, consisting mostly of graffiti to storefronts, and vandalism to a few police vehicles,” reads a press release from the police department.

It caused the Huntington Beach police to issue a curfew May 22. Officers were supported by police departments from neighboring cities.

“They were shooting the mortar type fireworks at officers. They were running into traffic and just completely uncooperative with our efforts to control the situation,” Police Chief Julian Harvey told the Huntington Beach City Council at their Tuesday meeting.

The police department declared an unlawful assembly on all three days of the May 21 weekend and 180 people were arrested over three days for vandalism, illegal fireworks, curfew violations and failure to disperse.

Meanwhile, the police department has launched an online portal requesting the public to submit videos and photo evidence of criminal activity that occurred during the May 21-23 weekend.

“Our detective personnel continue to comb through hours and hours of video and other evidence to bring prosecutions to those responsible for the vandalism,” Harvey said Tuesday.

He also said he contacted the FBI to engage with the social media platform, TikTok, and intends to visit their headquarters in Culver City with the bureau’s special agent in charge.

“There’s no question they were complicit. With the platform — the algorithms the platform employs — created the ability for this to become logarithmic and for us to see the thousands of people assemble in a very short period of time,” he said. 

Carr said the city is used to handling large crowds but this incident was an anomaly.

“In a weird way, it was sort of TikTok who was helping promote this, because it was showing up in folks’ “For you” page,” she said during a Thursday phone interview.

“Our police chief is working with other agencies, and really trying to see if maybe TikTok can adjust their algorithm so when things like these do start to catch fire that they’re aware that these are the ramifications of it — that this isn’t something that cities are necessarily set up to handle,” Carr said.

She added that there are similar parties that the city works behind the scenes to stop that people are unaware of and that some activities the city is alerted about never come to fruition. Carr also said the city dealt with the damage after May 22 incidents quickly.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize asked if the council should consider an ordinance aimed at curbing such activity in the future. 

Harvey said that’s a possibility, but that it really boils down to compliance.

“Adrian’s Kickback” weekend has prompted the city and the police department to review their response to such incidents.

“This, unfortunately, I hope is not a harbinger of things to come — but I believe it will be. I believe we’re going to see more of this,” Harvey said. “We have to be more nimble in how we prepare and deploy for these events.”

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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