TRENTON, N.J. – Local officials have been forced to cancel Long Branch’s Fourth of July fireworks after partiers wreaked havoc there recently, and may return for the holiday weekend. Assemblyman Edward Thomson wants to crack down on unauthorized large-scale gatherings that turn riotous.
Assemblyman Thomson is sponsoring legislation (A4991) that would impose tough penalties for those who engage in or promote an assembly that results in violence or property damage. In addition, the legislation strengthens penalties for harassing individuals in places of public accommodation during a riot.
“Our communities shouldn’t be held hostage by people who don’t want to follow our laws and respect our residents and businesses,” said Thomson (R-30). “While last weekend’s event remained largely peaceful, this type of large, unauthorized gathering could quickly get of hand. We need to put laws in place to prevent the type of behavior that have turned peaceful events into violent riots and can result in damage to private property.”
Last weekend, thousands of people descended upon Pier Village in Long Branch, answering a social media call to party at the Shore. There were complaints from business owners and residents about fights, destruction of property, and harassment of peaceful restaurant-goers.
There are rumors swirling on social media that another beach party is planned for Fourth of July weekend in Long Branch and Point Pleasant Beach.
“Our businesses have struggled for so long and the last thing we need is for any of them to be forced to close or lose business because customers are concerned about their safety. They are understandably concerned that these large, pop-up parties could result in violence and damage to their property,” said Thomson. “This bill would head off some of the behaviors that jeopardize public safety and help ensure residents and visitors can feel safe in our communities.”