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Notorious Palos Verdes Surfer Gang Might Finally Get In Trouble

Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes (Photo by tiarescott via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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A group of middle-aged surfers in Palos Verdes' Lunada Bay that harasses anyone who dares ride their waves is finally going to get in trouble, according to the city's new police chief. Palos Verdes Police Chief Jeff Kepley is ready to take down a group of men who have been harassing those who come to Lunada Bay, the public beach they've decided is theirs alone, the L.A. Times reports. The men, known as the Bay Boys, have been at this intimidation game for years mostly unchecked, but Kepley, who has had his job for a year or so, is adding patrols to the area with the intention of arresting someone soon.

"We will make an example out of anyone who behaves criminally down there," he told the Times.

An undercover reporter and photographer from The Guardian caught the Bay Boys in action earlier this year. Typically white, affluent and middle-aged, they're well-known in the area for being hyper-territorial, allegedly resulting to name calling, threats, vandalism and the occasional assault to keep non-locals away from their precious waves. They covered the reporters' car in eggs, for example. An attorney who dared to surf there last year told the Times that the Bay Boys threw dirt clods and rocks at him, and dumped his bag's contents into the ocean.

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A police officer was secretly recorded by The Guardian saying that while authorities knew about these guys, they weren't planning on doing much to stop them even though he admitted knowing their identities and personally finding them immature. "You know, it is what it is. If you feel uncomfortable, you know, then don't do it," he suggested.

Community activist Geoff Hagins told the Times that the Bay Boys are "a lot more sinister than people know," and that their behavior has long been "supported by the community and the police." He claimed that he and his parents reported receiving death threats from the Bay Boys, and that the City Council agreed to remove a security camera in the area after community members objected to it being there.

The Times wrote about the Bay Boys in 1991, too. At the time, a then-30-year-old Peter McCollum said that it wasn't "just a barbaric thing, it is done for a purpose. The crowds are so intense these days, you can't have your own little sanctuary. But we do."

While most reported incidents seem to involve verbal threats and property damage, in 1995, the Bay Boys fought a school teacher over a wave. The teacher ended up with a broken pelvis, broken ribs and a lacerated liver, according to the Independent. The police chief at the time, Gary Johansen, told the Independent that the Bay Boys were just sheltered "trust-fund babies." He thought a few arrests might stop them, and suggested another gang stand up to them. "They don't really know what a bad guy is," he said.

Protesters advocated against the Bay Boys' harassment in 1995, which only resulted in police citing the protesters' cars for minor infractions, then clearing out the area claiming someone had called in a bomb threat.