The New York Times has this story today about the Bird Rock Bandits case, which is currently on trial at the San Diego Superior Court.

The piece discusses the gang allegations that have been made against the five individuals accused of beating to death Emery Kauanui, a young La Jolla surfer. That’s something I looked at in-depth in this story last year.

Here’s an extract from the Times piece:

“We are a community of well-educated, family-oriented people,” the local paper, La Jolla Light, said in an editorial. “How can it happen here?”

But for many other residents, the events were not entirely surprising. Violence had long been a part of the local culture at Windansea; one group, the Windansea Surf Rats, had for decades used physical violence to intimidate outsiders and tagged the group’s initials in surf wax on the sidewalk near the beach.

Still, some residents say the Bird Rock Bandits represented a departure: Their brand of violence went beyond the one-on-one fights that sometimes break out on the beach, and their victim in this case, Mr. Kauanui, was himself a local.

“This was Lord of the Flies,” said Tim Bessell, 50, a La Jolla-born surfboard shaper. “They may have been playing make-believe as a gang, but in their case, it came true.”

Others have found it implausible that prosecutors are equating a beach clique, however unpleasant, to a criminal street gang.

“They weren’t gangsters,” says Richard Kenvin, 47, a filmmaker who grew up surfing Windansea. “They were gangsta chic.”


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