Massachusetts State Police announced today they will step up patrols at Carson Beach in South Boston after an "unprecedented volume of young people'' congregated there over the holiday weekend and fights erupted in the unruly crowd.
State Police said they made five arrests at the beach Monday, after an estimated 1,000 teens gathered. Authorities briefly blocked off streets near the popular South Boston beach and dispersed the crowd. (See photos here.)
State Police said in a statement this afternoon that they will join with Boston police, transit police, and UMass police in the increased security effort.
"This surge will begin this afternoon and will continue into the night, and will be repeated every day indefinitely,'' the statement said.
After the State Police issued their statement, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said that Boston police and the State Police will work together to "make sure we have a safe environment for ALL of our residents.''
"It is not unusual for people to go to the beach on Memorial Day weekend and we are very fortunate that our beaches are clean and enticing spots for people during the hot weather -- however this weekend there was a problem,'' Menino said. "We are hoping with some outreach to our partners and a joint effort with State Police everyone can enjoy our beautiful waterfront this summer.''
The State Police described several incidents of unruly crowds in South Boston, Dorchester and Quincy over the weekend.
"The initial fights were between members of rival Boston street gangs, and hundreds of other youths had gathered, some of whom were acting disorderly,'' the State Police said in describing Monday's incidents. "Troopers and officers cleared the young people from the area. Flare-ups occurred in other areas, including Savin Hill, Malibu Beach and Pleasure Bay.''
Monday's incidents came on the fourth day in a row that teens had flocked to the beach.
On Friday, troopers and Boston police "cleared approximately 700 young people" from Carson Beach, the JFK/UMass T station, and Savin Hill "after numerous fights broke out between rival gangs,'' the statement said. One arrest was made.
On Saturday, several hundred youths were ordered to leave Carson Beach after it had closed.
On Sunday, a crowd of 1,000 teens gathered. A state trooper was assaulted during one confrontation "by a suspected gang member who then fled into the crowd,'' the State Police said.
State Police said they also removed several hundred people from Castle Island after it closed at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday and removed about 200 more young people at about 1:30 a.m. Monday. Also, police reported that troopers and Quincy police responded to large crowds at Marina Bay, Squantum Point Park, and Wollaston Beach, and moved about 300 vehicles from the area after bars closed early Monday morning.
"Troopers assisted Quincy police with multiple fights and assaults,'' State Police said.
Police said they believed young people organized the gatherings using text messages and social media.
Niqua Simpson, a 17-year-old Dorchester teen sitting on Carson Beach this afternoon with some friends, said she had seen a notification about a 2 p.m. event at Carson Beach Monday on a friend’s Facebook page.
“I heard about a meet-up on Carson Beach, but it wasn’t to fight. It wasn’t anything bad, just friends meeting up,” Simpson said.
She added that her neighbor had been there Monday, and seen many physical altercations erupt, mostly between teenage girls.
The sunbathers who were scattered across Carson Beach today were either unaware or nonplussed by the incidents involving large groups of teenagers fighting there over the weekend.
Jillian Gallow, a Belmont resident who has been coming to Carson Beach and Castle Island for the past 10 years, said she would have gone somewhere else with her two young children had she heard about the incidents.
“If I had known that happened here, I probably wouldn’t have brought my kids here,” she said. “This beach is supposed to be a safe place you can bring your children. There are plenty of other places they can go.”
Susan Yiannousas, a lifelong South Boston resident, said she had been going to Carson Beach for more than 54 years and wouldn’t stop now.
“I figured if something erupted today, I would just get up and leave,” she said. “I’m not giving up on this area.”