A big part of moving forward will be listening to those who live and work at the Oceanfront
City leaders got an earful from them Wednesday night at a town hall meeting.
Virginia Beach business owners at the meeting expressed what they thought should have been done to control the violence during College Beach Weekend at the Oceanfront on Saturday.
That's when thousands of visitors, including college students, flooded the beach. Police say many of them became unruly.
Besides the violence that resulted in over 100 arrests, businesses say they were just overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up.
"I think one of the things that would have helped me and maybe some of the other places would have been noticed that hey there`s a big event that`s going to be here this weekend, commented Sean, a Beach business owner.
Here is the statement Mayor Will Sessoms released on his Facebook page:
Thank you all for your posts and messages regarding the events that occurred at the oceanfront the weekend of April 27-28.
First, I want to assure you we all share your concerns and are taking this very seriously. The behaviors exhibited by many who visited our resort area last weekend were totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The City was aware there was a gathering planned for college students, planned mostly through social media and organized by an outside promoter. This was not a city-sponsored event and did not require any type of permit because the events planned were to be held on private property in hotels, restaurants and bars. College students have traditionally come to Virginia Beach in the springtime, but the event planned was the first of its kind in size and scope.
Our Police Department prepared for public safety based on their knowledge of the event. Unfortunately, it appears a very large group of people not associated with the event arrived very late and caused many of the problems we experienced. When law enforcement realized the size of the crowd was going to be larger than anticipated, resources were shifted to increase coverage at the oceanfront. From 81 to 142 police officers were at the oceanfront. Police arrested148 people from Friday to Sunday. Our law enforcement officers were fully engaged and did an admirable job of not allowing the situation to escalate further than it did.
Virginia Beach has worked very hard to provide a safe, family-friendly resort area for our visitors and residents. We have been very successful in our efforts and do not want this one weekend to keep anyone from feeling any of this has changed. We welcome everyone who wants to come and take advantage of everything positive that is Virginia Beach. At the same time, we want those who may plan to come to our City with the intent of not following our laws to know any illegal activities will be addressed immediately and will not be tolerated.
Your input is sincerely appreciated. All of the comments and concerns we have received, and the input we received at last night's Town Hall meeting, will be carefully considered in our continuing investigations into the weekend activities and as we engage the community to assist us in planning for the future and learning from our experiences. Please know that the safety of our residents and visitors is our top priority.