Police break up massive illegal gathering at Seaside Park, second in three days

Parks Commission President Banjed Labrador said eventgoers, many of whom had out of state license plates, damaged the park.

Marissa Alter

Apr 18, 2023, 9:54 PM

Updated 398 days ago


Just days after violence during an unsanctioned music event at Seaside Park, Bridgeport police were back there to break up another illegal gathering Sunday afternoon.
“Oh my God, there were approximately 250 cars. As far as people were concerned, maybe 300 or 400 people,” said Bridgeport City Council Member Jorge Cruz, adding there were massive speakers blasting music loudly. Cruz went down to the park after getting a call from fellow Council Member Scott Burns, who lives in Black Rock.
“I actually was outside in my own backyard and heard the noise, the music,” Burns told News 12. He said he also received complaints from his constituents.
Cruz called police and said officers cleared out the park without issue.
Scott Appleby, Bridgeport’s director of Emergency Management, confirmed there was an unsanctioned car show held at Seaside Park that police shut down without issue. “In addition, there were some noise violations that were handled by PD with tickets but again without incident,” Appleby wrote in an email to News 12.
Parks Commission President Banjed Labrador said eventgoers, many of whom had out of state license plates, damaged the park.
“They were doing figure eights and donuts on the grass area there, and destroying it, and that's not what the park is for,” Labrador said.
Under city rules, events there with more than 50 people require a permit. This gathering didn't have one. Neither did a large music event Thursday evening where three people were shot.
 Police quickly arrested Christopher Rooche, of Bridgeport, after a brief chase.
“We're not going to tolerate any unauthorized gatherings here in the city of Bridgeport. We want people to come to the park and enjoy the park. But at the same time, they gotta go through the protocol to get the permit in order to do that,” Cruz said.
City leaders discussed how to prevent illegal gatherings during Monday night's City Council meeting. The consensus was the city needs to more proactive rather than just reacting when something happens.
“We may need to look at having the checkpoints staffed much earlier in the year,” Burns said.
Right now, is still the off season. Staff isn't scheduled to man the entrances until Memorial Day weekend, but that could be moved up.
Labrador told News 12 the answer lies with police. He wants officers stationed there.
“It's sorry to say that we have to go patrolling our parks, but that is safety. That's what people want. People want to come in here with their families and say, ‘Wow, I feel safe here. There’s police driving around here. Everything is going to be calm,’” Labrador said. He added that just the presence of officers would deter people from trying to cause problems and implored the council, “to find a budget to keep police officers there during the course of the summer months.”

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