Detectives in Mill Valley are still investigating a huge party that spilled out into the streets on Nov. 5 that involved between 100 and 200 juveniles, the police department said.

The party was so raucous that authorities advised nearby businesses to close early that evening. Police said that kids were yelling profanities, drinking, throwing bottles and possibly setting off fireworks on Ashford Avenue. Some teens jumped on a police car and threw things at officers, police said. Many teens were in the CVS parking lot on E. Blithedale Avenue.

A deputy from Marin County Sheriff’s Department was hit in the head by a can and suffered minor injuries, according to the police department.

Police attempted to break up the party by driving through the area and encouraging “voluntary dispersal,” according to a spokesperson from the department, but the sheer number of kids made it difficult, City Manager Todd Cusimano said.

At least two juveniles were cited, one for hosting the party and the other for doing donuts in a parking lot.

“Mill Valley Police is actively reviewing all recorded footage from the incident and will be pursuing additional charges for those who committed crimes,” said the department, adding that detectives are using license plates to try and identify participants. Police did not say whether any parents of the participants would face any consequences.

Blaming the parents

On Nov. 7, Cusimano addressed the city council about the melee, which he placed squarely on the shoulders of parents.

“Words matter, actions matter,” he said. “And so what really jumped out at me is that it starts at the home. I truly believe it, and there’s been a lack of respect for city government.”

Cusimano said that when juveniles are detained in Mill Valley, “50 percent of the time the first thing out of a parent’s mouth is, ‘Why did you detain my child?’ That’s the first question out of their mouth, and that’s a problem.”

The city manager said that when police attempted to break up the crowd, kids “instigated” the police and filmed them.

Cusimano pushed back on criticism he said he received from residents who said that the kids were getting slaps on the wrists, with only three revelers cited, because they are “rich white kids” from Mill Valley.

“Words matter, actions matter. And so what really jumped out at me is that it starts at the home. I truly believe it, and there’s been a lack of respect for city government.”

City Manager Todd Cusimano

“That is absolutely not true,” he said. “The reason why three were cited from the scene was because we had a handful of officers and almost 200 people running around in the streets. Some attacking officers. These are the facts of a situation of trying to safely navigate something.”

Ultimately, the city manager had a simple message to the community: “We’re coming and we’re investigating.”

County authorities have repeatedly asserted that underage drinking is a big problem in Marin. A grand jury report released in 2012 called the issue a “crisis” in the county and a study measuring teen drinking between 2017 and 2019 found that 24 percent of the county’s 11th graders regularly binge drank, meaning more than four drinks in one sitting. A 2019 report posted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nationally, 14 percent of high school students had binge drank within 30 days of the survey, well below Marin’s numbers.

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.