Ryan McDonald

Video of Hermosa Beach’s Pier Plaza stirs controversy

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HBPD officers stand guard on pier plaza

by Ryan McDonald

A video produced on behalf of Hermosa Beach, intended to depict a typical Saturday night on Pier Plaza, has divided residents and business owners, with some claiming that the video was an agenda-driven distortion of conditions in the city’s downtown.

The video condenses footage captured between roughly 5:30 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 9 till 2:30 a.m. Sept. 10 into several minutes of footage. The earlier hours include scenes of families and people dining, but conditions degenerate as the night goes on. The video captures people urinating in public, drinking from open containers, and a brawl involving at least a half-dozen people.

HBPD Chief Sharon Papa presented the video at Tuesday night’s City Council Meeting, which featured an update from the council’s Downtown Subcommittee. Following an incident last November, in which several police officers were injured while attempting to apprehend suspects on the plaza, the subcommittee launched a review of proposals to improve conditions in the area.

According to Papa, the purpose of the video was to give people who do not often spend time on the plaza on weekend nights a snapshot of conditions that officers deployed there encounter. The hired filmer was not accompanied by a police officer, and was not given instructions on what to capture, Papa said.

The chief, along with council members who have done ride-alongs with the city’s police officers on weekend nights, said that the images were representative. Papa denied that the footage was edited in a way to make conditions appear worse than they were.

“It’s over an extended period of time, but it does give you a sense of what we deal with on the weekends down there as your police department,” she said.

Many residents, however, argued that the selection of content ignored the large numbers of people who come to the plaza’s bars and restaurants and peaceably enjoy themselves.

“This one is put together, I don’t care what anyone says, in some way that photographer, that cinematographer, got the idea of what they wanted to see. I don’t see any of the happy people,” said Ray Dussault. ER



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