When Eastvale student Adrian Lopez organised a 17th birthday party, he never imagined it would descend into chaos. But that’s exactly what happened. Over the weekend, more than 2,500 people crashed the main strip of Huntington Beach, California, climbing trees, jumping on cop cars and setting off fireworks, leading to over 150 arrests. Thus, the legend of Adrian’s Kickback was born.
— $o$a (@btchesluvvsosa) May 23, 2021
According to reports, the crowd had gathered in response to a flyer distributed by Lopez for his birthday. He made the invitation on Monday, specifying a time (7:30 p.m.), place (fire pits) and date (May 22). “Slide tru this Saturday we finna turn up!!!!” read the bottom of the image, which was titled “Adrian’s Kickback.” Originally planned as a small get-together, the flyer started circulating on TikTok, after Lopez’s friend, Yahir Hernandez posted it to Snapchat, then to his personal TikTok account. “Tuesday morning was when Yahir made the TikTok,” Lopez told The New York Times. “I was on my way to school and it only had like 40 likes, so I ignored it.”
But soon enough, things started getting crazy. In just one week, the hashtag AdriansKickback was viewed more than 280 million times on the platform, with Buzzfeed even reporting that some people travelled from interstate to attend the impromptu riot.
Naturally, the entire ordeal was captured on video, posted to TikTok and Twitter, and it must be said, the clips are insane. Videos from the gathering showed crowds of young people running through the streets, climbing up traffic poles, lifeguard towers, and police vehicles before setting off a dangerous amount of fireworks at an intersection.
In the hours that followed, The Huntington Beach Police Department confirmed to news organisations that it had been made aware of the party earlier in the week. As a result, the department declared the crowd an unlawful assembly just after 7 p.m. and instituted an emergency curfew beginning at 11:30 p.m., as per BuzzFeed News.
— Jeryn (@GizmoJA) May 23, 2021
Like a scene out of Project X, Adrian’s Kickback quickly went from a funny internet meet-up to a full-scale riot. The officially tally showed 121 adults and 28 minors were arrested on charges including vandalism, curfew violations, and setting off illegal fireworks, but more alarmingly, the department alleged attendees threw rocks, bottles, and fireworks at officers. Several YouTubers and TikTok stars were caught up in the event, with Steezy Kane uploading a full video of the night’s antics, which one attendee referred to as “Lit”.
Ultimately though, Adrian’s Kickback is just another example of the insane power TikTok has over young people. When it comes to getting people together, the social media channel wields a level of influence that politicians crave and only movie stars exhibit. But despite the carnage and apparent danger, Lopez is doubling down on his newfound fame. The 17-year-old told The New York Times he plans to host more “kickback” events around the country. “We’re hosting events soon,” Hernandez said. “We’re going to host one in Texas.”
God help us.