Huntington Seaside copes with aftermath of viral TikTok occasion

Huntington Beach has dealt with wild parties, drunken hand-to-hand fighting, and political unrest.

But nothing prepared officials for “Adrian’s setback,” which started as a simple birthday party for an Inland Empire teenage boy and turned into a viral TikTok event that drew thousands on the beach last week – but not Adrian Lopez, who in the days before the party was getting increasingly nervous about all the attention.

When it was over, more than 175 people were arrested, city officials and merchants added up the damage, and everyone wondered who should be blamed and who should be charged.

The way Adrian’s birthday invitation went viral has alerted city guides, who say they are not sure how to deal with it. Councilor Dan Kalmick is furious that police resources and tax dollars have been spent on a prank. He said they didn’t have easy answers on how to deal with the next viral video, which will be released on popular platforms like TikTok and which can receive millions of views in a matter of days.

“It’s about the fact that government is not structured to deal with an amorphous unit of people,” Kalmick said. “This wasn’t a concert where we could speak to an organizer and issue a permit. When you have people who don’t have a command or control structure, how does a city or a police station do it? I am just not sure. ”

“Adrian’s Kickback” speaks for the efficiency of the TikTok social media algorithm, which sent a message far and wide about the teenagers’ birthday. But it’s also in many ways a sign of the pent-up energy of young people desperately looking for fun after more than a year of pandemic lockdown.

“People my age haven’t gone out in a year,” said Edgar Peralta, an 18-year-old Downey resident who went to the party last Saturday but did not tolerate the debauchery that resulted. “It was to get the ball rolling. This is the beginning of summer. “

The genesis of three days of unrest in downtown Huntington Beach is a familiar one.

For his 17th birthday, Adrian wanted to sit back and relax by the fire pits in Huntington Beach with friends from school. Beach party celebrations are a tradition for many teenagers in Southern California. But what happened last weekend was anything but ordinary.

The high schooler’s invitation was picked up by TikTok’s “For You” algorithm and viewed by people across the country. The announcement was curious: who was this mysterious teenager and would someone actually go to their party? Some TikTok users, including internet celebrities, have started posting about it, and videos with the hashtag #adrianskickback have seen more than 326 million views since then.

On Saturday night, around 2,500 teenagers and young adults – some say they drove for hours or traveled from other states – gathered at Huntington Beach Pier and downtown for a gathering that turned into chaos.

Party-goers blew fireworks into a mob in the middle of the Pacific Coast Highway, jumped on police cars, scaled palm trees and flagpoles, and jumped from the pier into crowds to surf. A window at CVS was smashed, businesses were graffitied, and the roof of lifeguard tower 13 collapsed after it was scaled.

Kickback attendees blew fireworks into the crowd on 6th Street in the middle of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Kickback attendees blew fireworks into the crowd on 6th Street in the middle of the Pacific Coast Highway.


“It was a festival atmosphere, but there wasn’t anything that could cause it to end, and that was the problem,” said Neil Broom, 53, who watched the festivities play out as he checked into the restaurant staff in Duke’s Huntington Beach. “They were literally playing in traffic on PCH.”

Authorities noticed the party’s announcement as it circulated last week and immediately began stocking up on what was being billed as a weekend long. In total, more than 150 officers from almost every Orange County Police Department were called to the beach on Saturday evening to help control the crowd.

Police clashed with police on Saturday and officials fired rubber and pepper bullets as they tried to disperse the crowd. Finally, the authorities put an overnight curfew to clear the streets. Party-goers also came to Surf City on Friday and Sunday, but Saturday brought the largest group. The majority of those detained over the weekend were not from Orange County, police said.

Kickback participants climbed palm trees and flagpoles and jumped off the pier.

Kickback participants climbed palm trees and flagpoles and jumped off the pier.


The pier and downtown have seen more than part of their problems over the years.

In 2013 violence broke out in the city center after the US Open of Surfing. People broke shop windows, threw rubble down the police, and dumped portable toilets on the street. Over the next year, organizers stopped hosting live music on the competition and restricted alcohol sales to curb potential illegal activity.

But Adrian’s setback was different.

Interim Police Chief Julian Harvey said he had planned meetings with representatives from social media platforms, including TikTok, to identify ways law enforcement agencies could work with the sites to “minimize the potential for such incidents in the future. ”

A TikTok representative did not comment on “Adrian’s setback” or any communication with city officials.

Many in Huntington Beach have wondered why so many young people would travel to attend a party for someone they don’t know. One reason is to just get out of the house after the pandemic, but the human desire to be part of something big also plays a role, said Karen North, a professor of social media at USC.

Police set security lines near Huntington Beach Pier after calling an illegal gathering.

Police set security lines near Huntington Beach Pier after calling an illegal gathering. In the end, more than 175 people were arrested.


“It’s the same reason people watch the space shuttle take off. People want to be a part of this moment. You want to be able to say, “I was there when this happened,” said North.

“All of that desire to be part of the popular topic or trending event is reinforced by social media because it’s so global now,” she said. “The fundamental change with social media is that we feel like we have a personal relationship with people even when we don’t.”

The party’s aftermath emerges from national talks on the role social media plays in the aftermath of news broadcast across platforms. TikTok, which debuted in the US in 2018 and is owned by China-based ByteDance, has been pressured by the US government over concerns about the company’s handling of data collected from US users.

Cities like Huntington Beach may find it difficult to hold online platforms accountable for disseminating information about events that turn violent or cause harm, North said.

“There is a lot of discussion about what responsibility social media platforms have for events or the consequences of conversations on their platform,” she said. “But for the most part, the platforms are protected because they host our conversations instead of writing, creating, or editing their own content.”

Huntington Beach Police Level in the parking lot near Lifeguard Tower 13.

The Huntington Beach police station in the parking lot near Lifeguard Tower 13, where thousands of teenagers and young adults gathered for “Adrian’s Setback” after the invitation was picked up by TikTok’s “For You” algorithm.


Celebrities have been using TikTok for years to connect with fans. Musicians have found success with the app and brought their songs to widespread popularity. Some users say the platform and others who like them are on the verge of becoming the next big party promoters.

“There are all of these new people gathering over TikTok just because videos can go viral so quickly compared to YouTube or Instagram that only your followers will see them or just show them to other people,” said Andrew Denton, 21, who went to Huntington Beach on Friday and Saturday for social media content.

One of his videos, which shows a crowd swarming around Lifeguard Tower 13, has been viewed 4 million times. His original following of 200 people quickly rose to more than 3,400, he said.

“I’m still a bit shocked that it all went under,” he said.

The phenomenon of the viral event has gained momentum. Last month, hundreds of people by the name Josh connected on social media and gathered in a Nebraska park to battle pool noodles. In 2019, UFO supporters showed up in Area 51, Nevada after a viral Facebook post announced a raid on the website.

Gatherings hosted by TikTok influencers during the pandemic drew hundreds of guests to mansions in the Hollywood Hills over the past year in breach of public health regulations. Triller, an LA-based company that operates a video-sharing app rivaling TikTok, planned to host a private influencer launch party in the Hollywood Hills in November, but it was later canceled.

“Adrian’s setback” is already spurring discussions of similar events across California and other states, said 17-year-old Liam Garner of Los Alamitos, who attended the Huntington Beach party.

“This incident with Adrian’s setback sets the precedent,” he said. “It is becoming more common.”

While TikTok users from across the country were in Huntington Beach on Saturday, Adrian was in Los Angeles. In an interview, he told the New York Times that he was concerned about the event’s attention and decided to find a venue. They worked with Los Angeles-based streetwear store Cookies N ‘Kicks to sell $ 40 tickets to the event, which was due to be held in an undisclosed location in Los Angeles, due to be revealed on the Saturday night before the party, reported the newspaper.

Cookies N ‘Kicks did not respond to an email from a Los Angeles Times reporter asking for comment. Adrian also didn’t respond to a reporter’s request for comment this week.

The LA party address leaked and people – including the police – showed up at the venue. The crowd and police presence essentially stopped the party before it had a chance to start. This is evident from a video posted by a teenage content creator named Donald, who goes by Donlad.

In a statement posted on his Instagram account on Monday, Adrian said he had not started or promoted any illegal activities and made no money from the event. He added that he is not involved in any upcoming events or goods sold under his name.

“Thank you for your patience and support,” he wrote. “The last few days have been very hectic and unreal. I used this time to gather my thoughts and see what is best for me and my family. ”

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