Tweets sent crowds to Grand Haven before brawl

State park closed early Monday evening after fights, disorderly conduct

grand haven state park
Michigan State Police on the beach at Grand Haven State Park after reports of a large number of people fighting. The park was shut down. (July 3, 2017)

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Police are working with prosecutors to press charges against people involved in the fights that broke out on Grand Haven’s beach over the past two days.

A crowd of between 200 and 300 people became unruly on Monday, forcing authorities to shut down the beach at Grand Haven State Park early and then tighten security on Tuesday.

There were warnings of potential trouble on social media. 24 Hour News 8 found tweets that were sent out days and weeks before the fight.

One read, “Grand Have is def the move!! Unless u wanna deal with bs and lots of cops at soha.”

“Soha” means South Haven, where a large fight broke out around the Fourth of July in 2016 and North Beach was cleared. In response, police cracked down on alcohol on the beach this year.

The number of people who got the message that Grand Haven was the spot to be this year is unclear, but hundreds showed up.

“Social media is very powerful,” Grand Haven Department of Public Safety Lt. Joe Boyle said.

Unfortunately, Grand Haven police weren’t aware of the online messages until after the fight. Now, they are watching closely to try to get in front of the chaos.

“They need to know that we are going to further monitor social media and there is going to be other plans put in place moving forward with the Coast Guard Festival,” Boyle said.

24 Hour News 8 wondered if police are seeing more problems on the beaches because of social media.

“I don’t know if it’s attributed directly to that,” Boyle said. “Do I think social media played a role? Absolutely.”

He’s not concerned about people coming to Grand Haven — it’s all about the way they act when they get here.

“Have a great time, that’s fine, but if they want to come here and cause trouble, we suggest they stay home,” he said.