TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywomen Kim Eulner and Marilyn Piperno, who represent several coastal communities including Long Branch, say they support creating a task force and plan to introduce legislation to stop pop-up parties promoting weed and underage drinking from wreaking havoc down the shore this summer.
Thousands of young partygoers arrived in Long Branch on Saturday for a “beach linkup” advertised on social media. The crowds created a public safety emergency and resulted in arrests and a town-wide curfew. Threats of a second pop-up party in Long Branch on June 19 are already circulating on social media sites.
“We want young people to enjoy our beaches, but they have to do it responsibly. These unsanctioned pop-up parties are a free-for-all and dangerous,” Eulner (R-Monmouth) said. “It will take a comprehensive and coordinated effort, and appropriate consequences, to prevent future disruptions to our shore communities.”
Sen. Robert Singer, of Ocean County, proposed a task force of law enforcement, mass transit representatives, and other public officials on Sunday after an estimated 5,000 teenagers arrived in Long Branch looking to party. According to reports, many traveled via NJ Transit and proceeded to Pier Village, the city’s main beachfront attraction. Eleven adults and four juveniles were arrested for fighting and vandalism.
“No one was seriously injured on Saturday, thankfully, but law enforcement had to be diverted to the area to disperse unruly crowds, shops had to close, and residents and tourists had to be in by 9 p.m. because of public safety concerns,” Piperno (R-Monmouth) said. “The mixture of social media, recreational marijuana, alcohol and police reforms that limit law enforcement’s interactions with our youth is a recipe for disaster that compromises the security of our shore towns.”
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said the state statute charging law enforcement officers with the crime of official deprivation of civil rights for certain encounters involving the underage consumption of marijuana and alcohol is hindering the ability to deter illegal behavior. The assemblywomen are working with Golden on a legislative solution.
“What hasn’t changed is the third-degree crime on top of law enforcement’s head about questioning individuals with marijuana and alcohol. That policy needs to be revisited,” Golden said.
Last summer, police arrested four people during a similar pop-up mob in Long Branch in June, and officials postponed a planned Fourth of July fireworks show in response to TikTok videos promoting another party.
“These aren’t peaceful protests or civic engagements, they are chaos and they are overwhelming our local law enforcement agencies, and hurting our business owners’ bottom lines,” said Eulner and Piperno. “We endorse this task force and removing the handcuffs from our law enforcement, because these measures protect our communities from unrest while sending a strong message to the pop-up party organizers.”