(Sept. 28, 2020) Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and Police Chief Ross Buzzuro held a media-only press conference today to discuss the weekend’s pop-up car rally.
“It was a challenging weekend for us in Ocean City,” Meehan said.
The mayor prefaced his statement by stressing that all are welcome to the resort, but everyone must obey the law and respect others — actions not exhibited by the car rally participants.
Nevertheless, unlike past years, Meehan said the city was prepared.
“We’ve been planning for this, unfortunately, for the last 365 days,” he said.
Meehan discussed the expansion of the Special Event Zone legislation, which granted police more power to enact harsher fines and increased imprisonable actions.
“We did tow vehicles, we did make arrests and we did the responsible thing in order to keep our community safe,” Meehan said.
To be exact, police arrested 277 people and towed 345 vehicles from last Thursday to Sunday.
While Buzzuro hesitated to call this past weekend a success, he said the tools allotted to law enforcement, such as the strengthened legislation, aid from allied agencies and the towing ordinance, helped police manage unruly crowds much more effectively.
“Success may not be the appropriate word,” Buzzuro said. “It all comes down to the fact that we had literally tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people here this weekend. It could rival Fourth of July weekend. So with that number of people, the measures we were able to introduce gave us an ability to maintain control virtually throughout the four to five days of this event.”
Meehan was more liberal with his assessment, saying that the resort sent a clear message to participants that the law would be enforced and he believed that some participants had been deterred.
“I’m not going to tell you it wasn’t ugly at times because of the actions of some of those who were here, but the plan worked,” Meehan said.
Meehan also responded to a question regarding how the event could have spurred a super spread of the novel coronavirus.
“This generation didn’t seem to be too cognizant of the fact of other issues that are going on in this country right now and that in itself … is unfortunate,” Meehan said, claiming that businesses enforced CDC regulations and placing blame on participants for not being socially responsible.
“That’s one of the reasons … as large crowds gathered we did break them up, even if they were in parking lots,” Meehan said. “We tried to do whatever we could to disperse them, for a number of reasons, but that certainly was one of them.”
As for two officers who were injured this past weekend, Buzzuro said both were in good conditions and had been released from the hospital.
How the pop-up rally will take shape in the future is uncertain, but Buzzuro and Meehan expressed that it would take continued community-wide effort to prevent more ruckus in the resort.
“We can’t do this alone,” Buzzuro said. “We have the true support of our community and we will do anything for them.”