OCEAN CITY, Md. — A late-night brawl including dozens of people on the Ocean City Boardwalk has sparked outrage through social media.
The video posted to Facebook by user Joe Barrasso showed what appeared to be dozens of teenagers or young adults on the Ocean City Boardwalk fighting each other. At least one individual was knocked unconscious and continued to be struck. The post of the video was made early Wednesday morning at around 12:45 a.m.
As the video captured by onlookers begins, tension among the group escalates into physical violence about 40 seconds into the footage.
An individual in a black shirt and pants sits down on one of Ocean City’s Boardwalk benches. While sitting on the bench, the person is attacked by multiple others, eventually going limp, the video shows.
First the person lays down on the bench, then is pulled to the ground unresponsive, and a few others gather around them. A male in a red shirt and black pants appears to stomp on the unconscious person’s upper body, sparking further fighting.
Warning: This video contains images and language that may be distrurbing to some viewers.
The fight then moves to the beach, where the male in red and black is surrounded by about half a dozen people and beaten, according to the video, eventually moving himself away from that location at the end of the video.
Throughout the more than four-minute video no police or police sirens are audible and the witnesses who are recording the video are heard questioning where the authorities are.
Boardwalk business signs appear to place the brawl in the Fourth Street area.
The Ocean City Police Department is investigating the incident, according to the statement by Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan. He added the town will also host a special council meeting Wednesday at 1 p.m. to discuss the recent violence in town.
“The past few days have been extremely difficult for our community and our police department,” Meehan said. “The safety of our residents and visitors remains our No. 1 priority.”
He continued, “We are equally horrified by the actions displayed on social media videos depicting violence and unruly crowds. This behavior has no place in Ocean City and violence like this will not be tolerated.”
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On Wednesday afternoon, Ocean City Police asked the public to help identify individuals who participated in Wednesday morning’s Boardwalk brawl. Anyone with information is asked to called OCPD at 410-723-6604 or email email@example.com.
The original post of the video was briefly removed from public access mid-morning Wednesday before being restored; it had been viewed more than 326,000 times.
Commentators on Facebook were shocked by the brawl and expressed concern that it happened at the Ocean City Boardwalk.
Other comments expressed frustration at bystanders for not intervening. Some linked the violence with the groups of graduating seniors that typically visit Ocean City this time of year, criticizing families that let their children take those trips.
An unrelated fight and stabbing early Sunday on the Boardwalk has also been under investigation by police.
June is the start of the tourist season and a busier month for the Ocean City Police Department. Many high school students from Mid-Atlantic states visit Ocean City in June to celebrate graduation or enjoy a beach week, often unaccompanied by parents.
In June 2019, there were 13,113 calls for service, the second most of any month, according to OCPD’s 2019 annual report. Simple assaults, burglaries, larcenies and thefts also spike in the month of June.
In past years, the town’s Play It Safe program entertained graduates with activities and attractions. But, this year, the program was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In light of growing concerns around COVID-19, the Ocean City Alcohol and Drug Prevention Committee has made the extremely difficult decision to cancel this year’s Play It Safe 2020 events scheduled for May 30-June 11,” according to the Facebook page.
Prior to the cancellation, organizers were promoting free events such as beach karaoke, beach volleyball tournaments, beach yoga, dodge ball and dance parties with disc jockeys.
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