A Christmas party on Little Bay Beach in Sydney, Australia, went from seasonal to unreasonable as thousands of drunken revelers caused a riot and threw beer bottles at police, leading to multiple arrests, according to the Australian.
About 3000 people turned up to an alcohol-free zone at the beach, mostly backpackers and other young travelers. Police moved in to break up the party around 3:00 p.m. local time and redirected partiers to public transportation. While many left without incident, some turned violent, throwing bottles at police. Two women in their 20s — an Irish national and an English woman — were arrested for assaulting police with bottles, according to the New York Post.
Police resorted to pepper-spraying the crowd of thousands in order to control them.
Police Superintendent Karen McCarthy defended the use of pepper spray in breaking up the party.
“Police deployed appropriate tactics in order to deal with the alcohol-fueled violence and bring the matter safely under control … People were in contravention of the alcohol-free zone, and we simply took swift action to move the people from the area and get them onto safe transport home.”
She confirmed that just 40 police officers were available to disperse the crowd of thousands and maintained that her officers did not use “excessive force” in shutting down the party, despite a video that appears to show a police officer shoving a woman to the ground .
“It has been an ongoing issue in the eastern beaches area and the eastern suburbs with these large parties,” said Superintendent McCarthy.
A bystander said that the large crowd tried to antagonize and provoke police. Kelly Skyba told the Daily Telegraph that she was “shocked” at how the partiers behaved.
“It was pretty calm to start off with,” she said, “but then some people started to push at the police, strike at the police and got to hit them … They were just trying to move them on, and then people started throwing bottles at them, and a lot of the women [were] screaming and using profanities.”
“They started punching the property and the signs and things,” said Skyba, “just creating a ruckus basically, to try and make noise.”