The story of the violent zillionaire surf-localism gang known as the Lunada Bay Boys and the ongoing federal lawsuit against them is well-explained in this L.A. Times article. Essentially generations of rich white surfer boys in Palos Verdes estates have for decades violently intimidated any outsiders who wanted to visit the public beach at Lunada Bay and they’re finally being called to account in federal court.1 So I finally had time to investigate the matter on PACER, and collected a ton of pleadings and orders on Archive.Org. Note that most of the early documents, including the initial complaint, are presently sealed because one of the defendants, now known as N.F., is a minor but was named in the early pleadings.
Of particular interest are twenty declarations made by various victims of the Lunada Bay Boys over the years, collected by the plaintiffs in support of their motion to certify the suit as a class action, which document endless sordid details of the astonishing violence and idiocy of the Lunada Bay Boys over multiple generations and many decades, as well as the complicity of the police and city government of Palos Verdes Estates. This material is so interesting that I made these twenty documents into a single eBook, with a table of contents and pagination and so on, to make them easier to read on a tablet or whatever. You can download a copy of that here from the Archive. Here are a couple examples of what’s in there, and there are plenty more after the break.
From the Declaration of John Macharg:
I was surfing Lunada Bay the morning of Jan. 29, 2016. The waves were big and my surfboard leash broke. My surfboard drifted to shore by the rocks near the patio. When I reached my board, David Melo walked down the patio stairs and immediately started harassing me by making statements like “You only come around here when the waves are good.” I responded by telling David that he had no right to question how or when I surf the Bay and that localism in general was wrong headed, unfair and illegal. At that point, Sang Lee butted in and began to argue with me. I told Sang that Lunada Bay was public property and did not belong to him. Sang poured out a portion of the beer that he was holding onto my head. I asked Sang if he was trying to start a fight and said “There is a cop right here.” Sang replied “It’s just beer.” There were several officers on the patio deck and one was observing from just a few feet to my right while I argued with Sang and David.
From the Declaration of John Carpenter (31 years on the Riverside PD):
During our walk down to the beach at Lunada Bay [in 1983 or 1984], we did not encounter many people. However, once we paddled out, we experienced Lunada Bay’s localized culture firsthand. There were about 6 surfers in the water, all of whom were male. Almost immediately after we paddled out, the other surfers started yelling at us, saying “you guys don’t belong here” and “get out of here.” They also called us names and cursed at us. These surfers also aggressively violated surf etiquette – they would drop in on my waves and cut me off. This behavior was dangerous because it required me to pull off a wave, which could have resulted in the waves pummeling me or could have caused me to crash into the nearby shallow rock reef. The experience was frustrating and dangerous because I risked getting injured by a Bay Boy each time I tried to surf a wave.
After about 45 minutes of suffering from the Lunada Bay Boys’ harassment, Sue and I felt too uncomfortable so we decided to leave. When we got back to the car, we discovered that Sue’s car antenna had been mangled and that someone had vandalized the car by smearing surf wax on it. They wrote derogatory words about Sue being a woman. Based on my friends’ experiences and my 45 minutes of trying to surf at Lunada Bay, I was almost positive that the Lunada Bay Boys were responsible for this vandalism.
Due to this negative experience, I have not returned to surf Lunada Bay. When I recently heard that the intimidation and exclusionary behavior at Lunada Bay is still occurring – more than 30 years after I experienced it firsthand – I was shocked. As a law enforcement professional, I know that the conduct taking place at Lunada Bay is no different than criminal gang activity. Like a criminal gang, the Lunada Bay Boys have taken over a public place and use intimidation tactics to scare others to stay off their turf.
In response to this conduct, the City of Palos Verdes Estates’ police should have taken action to address the issues and treat the situation like a gang injunction. For example, they should have set up cameras, conducted surveillance, and prosecuted wrongdoers based on the complaints they received. Instead, the City and the police ignore the complaints or take down reports of aggression but then fail to follow up and investigate and prosecute the wrongdoers.
From the Declaration of Jason Gersch:
One evening in the summer 1996, I was checking the surf with some friends at the top of Bluff Cove in Palos Verdes Estates and we were approached by a PVE police officer. It was around 5:00 pm. The officer asked what we were doing. I responded by stating “checking the surf,” and the officer demanded to see our drivers’ licenses. The officer then stated “you are a long way from home” and “it’s getting late so you need to leave.”
After I appeared on television at another Lunada Bay protest organized by Geoff Hagins in 1996, I was detained by PVE police while attending a house party in Lunada Bay. I think this was in the summer of 1996. I was held at the Police Station but not charged. I was released after a couple hours and told him [sic] to “walk towards Torrance.” I was not permitted to use a phone.
From the Declaration of Kenneth Claypool:
Still undeterred, in January 2015, my brother Chris Claypool, Jordan Wright and I decided to surf Lunada Bay. We made it to the bottom of the Southern trail and were on the rocks around 5:00 am. This is an easier trail to access the beach. It was still dark, and our strategy was not to respond or engage in any way to the negative attacks; no acknowledgement whatsoever. The waves were good sized, around 12 to 15 foot faces. There were about five Lunada Bay locals in the water and more than enough waves for everyone. As we paddled out, one guy who I later learned was Brant Blakeman, paddle over to us and said “Try and catch a wave and see what happens. There is no fucking way you are getting a wave. Just go in. Just go. You better not cut me off.” … Blakeman then paddled over towards my brother and continued with his rant. “Get the fuck out of here. You are dangerous. Stay the fuck away from me.” My brother just put his fingers in his ears and tried to ignore him. At one point, Blakeman caught a wave and intentionally aimed his board straight at my brother Chris, just barely missing him by a few feet. I watched as Blakeman intentionally dropped in on Jordan Wright at least twice. This was extremely dangerous; Other Lunada Bay locals also purposefully dropped in on Jordan. I later learned that Jordan broke his board on one of the waves that he was dropped in on. It was clear that Brant Blakeman and the other Lunada Bay locals were threatening me, Jordan Wright, and my brother to discourage our use of Lunada Bay and to prevent us from enjoying the beauty of the shoreline and ocean. Another local, dropped into a wave and tried to run over my brother Chris.
When my brother and I got out of water, we saw people gathering on top of the bluff near the two trailheads – impeding access and movement. The people on top of the bluff appeared to know each other, and were videotaping my brother and me as we were leaving. I believe the people on top of the bluff were locals and part of the Bay Boys and their videotaping of us on the bluff was an effort to intimidate my brother and me.
On November 28, 2016, I drove to Lunada Bay to view the destruction of the fort structure. It was impressive. The company that the City had contracted with was using a helicopter to lower workers and equipment onto the beach; because access to Lunada Bay is so limited, they chose to use a helicopter. There was news media covering the event. My dash mounted video camera was running because even with the media present I would be away from my truck so I wanted to take precautions. … A or two later, I learned that on the evening of November 28, 2016 some people who I believe were Bay Boys, burned a generator, keyed the door of a contractor’s truck, scratched other construction vehicles and tampered with the ignition of a tractor-trailer parked on the blufftop. I immediately reviewed the video on my dash mounted video camera and discovered that there was an individual lurking around my truck the day that I was there with his face covered by a ski mask and hooded sweatshirt.
- This story is mostly off my beat here at MK.Org, but it’s tangentially related because Kerry Morrison famously moved from Rancho Palos Verdes to Los Angeles for the explicitly avowed purpose of
making our lovely Los Angeles more like one of those fascistic little cities up on the rockimplementing urban renewal. Also, neither the Lunada Bay Boys nor Hurricane Kerry understand the first thing about the meaning and value of public space. Also, it’s my blog and I’ll write about what I want to write about!