Point Pleasant Beach mayor outraged after thousands violate social distancing rules

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, New Jersey (WABC) -- Large crowds flocked to the Jersey Shore on Tuesday, sparking outrage from New Jersey officials, who say it was a violation of social distancing rules.

Officers from the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department responded to a large gathering of people coming to Point Pleasant Beach late Tuesday afternoon as the beaches were closing.

Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra expressed his outage in a video posted to Facebook.

"The town has trash everywhere ... asking why people were drinking in public yesterday, smoking weed in public, changing in front yards and urinating in bushes," Kanitra said.

But the mayor didn't stop there.

"Lets take race completely out of discussion, I personally won't tolerate residents or anyone else for that matter bringing up the color of anyone's skin when we're talking about yesterday's situation," Kanitra said. "The bottom line is Point Pleasant Beach is not going to be anyone's dumping ground, regardless of where they are from or what they look like."

Police say the crowd grew by the hour on Jenkinson's Beach, and mostly appeared to be young adults.

In a press conference on Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey State Police Col. Pat Callahan addressed the big gatherings.

"Last night it was a big gathering someone said about 1,000 folks on the beach," Callahan said. "They're really from all the reports that I received that it was just that a large gathering."

According to officials, the crowd, estimated to be in the thousands, failed to follow social distancing guidelines.

Due to the size of the crowd, Point Pleasant Beach officers requested additional aid from surrounding police departments.

"They did request assistance, we had 15 troopers that responded," Callahan said.

Police say people began to leave the area around 11 p.m.

No major incidents, arrests or damage was reported.

However, due to the gatherings, Kanitra has been on the phone reworking the beach's summer plan.

"Starting June 20, we will have 30 additional seasonal police officers," Kanitra said. "Their main focus will be quality of life and enforcement of related issues, I will personally be addressing them to make it clear what the priorities and expectations are here in Point Pleasant Beach."

At the moment, the gathering on Tuesday appears to be an isolated incident.

On Wednesday, the shoreline showed beachgoers social distancing, and most were wearing masks.

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