Editorial: MLO - Malibu Locals Only Gang - Publication: Entertainment Weekly Back to Editorials

Patronised by a variety of A List celebrity offspring, including Ed Gibson (son of Mel) and Brawly Nolte ( son of Nic) the Malibu based surfgang MLO, Malibu Locals Only have been caught in the media spotlight, after a party fight between MLO gangmambers and Valley based teenagers left a valley teenager brutally inujred, suffering permanent brain damage.

A recent story profiling the incident on TV show Celebrity Justice fuelled renewed interest in the gang while also provoking litigation from those mentioned during the segment. Meanwhile, in the face of the celebrity based sensationalism, locals insist the MLO is not a lethal posse of crazed gun toting rich kids, eternally warped by a life of drugs and pertty crime, but more a simple click of pivileged kids hanging together and asserting a territorial streak.in areas like Zuma Beach, Malibu Pier Point Dume, and Broadbeach.

In December last year, a story published by Vicki Godal/Special to The Malibu Times claimed stated that producers at Fox 11 News contacted the Times in early January about a story the paper published regarding the MLO and a beating of a young man while at party in Malibu last spring. Another beating, again at party in Malibu, had taken place in the fall, as well as a couple being attacked while walking on the beach. MLO members reportedly committed the second beating, while it is unknown who attacked the couple on the beach.

The Malibu Times artcle also claimed the first attack in March occurred while the victim was leaving the party. He was attacked by a group of about 10 young men and was beaten about the head to unconsciousness. Doctors told the victim's parents that he was beaten nearly to death. Due to the head injuries, the victim had short-term memory loss for months afterwards and has been in psychiatric therapy since the attack. A former honor student, the victim was accepted to several colleges, but currently has no plans to attend in the near future.

"I have to read the same thing over and over again to remember it, and even then sometimes I don't," the victim was quoted in the Malibu Times story . "It's really frustrating because school used to be so easy for me." No attackers were ever named or charged, although the beating was witnessed by at least 20 people, mostly Malibu High School students. A reward was offered by the victim's father in the Malibu High School newspaper, The Current, which first published the story about the beating. The article was co-authored by the newspaper's editors in chief, David Bresler and Jaclyn Mohr.

Several Malibu High School students were contacted as potential witnesses to the beating. Those that called back refused to be named in this article and would speak only off the record. Malibu High School principal Mike Matthews said the MLO has been around for years, but in the past, was not a violent group. "I've been here 11 years, and only in the last two years have the tagging and graffiti become prevalent," said Matthews. "I think people are using the name MLO as an excuse when it's more about individual characters than the power of the MLO."

Because the families of the victims feared more violence for their sons, they did not take legal action. However, the father of the first victim said he consistently contacted Lost Hills Sheriff's Detective J.P. Manwell, who investigated the beating of his son

The father said the detective did not return repeated phone calls in April of last year regarding the case, and in May he was told the case was being put on hold until after the summer. In December, the victim went to visit a friend who had witnessed the beating and who was also listed as a victim in the sheriff's report, to see if they could help identify the attackers. However, a formal identification lineup was never conducted. The victim's father telephoned Manwell on Jan. 31 and said the detective told him that he would probably stop pursuing the case. The father has kept a detailed call log since April.

Manwell said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon that the case is open and the status is pending. He said he ran the case by the district attorney's office in Sylmar, but the office did not want to follow up on it due to lack of evidence. Regarding the beating in March, Manwell said, "We have yet to receive a strong workable lead as to the identity of the perpetrators in the first beating. And the longer it goes on, the harder it will be to prove."

The second beating that took place in the fall of 2003, happened at a party in a home on Carbon Mesa Drive. According to the Sheriff's Incident Report Narrative, witnesses say the victim was surrounded by five males who began demanding he give them information about a stolen dirt bike. The victim said he kept telling them he had no idea who took the dirt bike. He was then punched in the jaw and fell to the floor.

What followed was a brutal beating by the five males. When the victim fell, the attackers dragged him outside, and continued kicking him. The victim was unconscious for about five minutes, stated witnesses in the sheriff's report. The brother of the victim gave statements to sheriff's deputies, describing in detail the beating, including an identification of one attacker.

In an act of retaliation, the victim's two friends tried to set fire to the house. Then, while attempting to put it out, were chased away by partygoers. When deputies arrived, the two were arrested on arson charges. In a Superior Court affidavit filed in the arson case, one of the two charged who had witnessed the beating of his friend, wrote that the apparent leader of the group that did the beating yelled at the victim's friends and the rest of the partygoers, "If you tell anyone or do anything, we're going to kill you! We know where you live!"

A producer at Fox 11 News had first picked up the story idea about the MLO when a videotape of a fight that took place at another party in Malibu during the summer was brought to his attention. The party was thrown by producers in a rented home, and a group of uninvited people crashed the party. They were thrown out, and while in the backyard of the home, a fight broke.

A person connected to Fox 11 had shot videotape of the fight and sent it to the producer. In researching who the people in the group were, the name MLO came up. Then the story published by this paper came to Fox 11's attention.

The victim of the first beating was shown the tape by the news program reporters. He identified a person in the video as one who was part of the group of attackers and also named in the sheriff's report. Although many are labeling the MLO as a gang, Detective Manwell says they are not considered a gang.


Detective John Manwell - Lost Hills Police Station Calabasus

Speaking to reporter Craig Stephens in late April 2004, Manwell reinforced his stance. "This is simply a local group of kids, and it really doesnt come close to being classified as a gang. There are very definite rules relating to what constitutes a gang, and the MLO does not really come close to fitting that classification . It is simply a large group of group of youths surf based largely stemming from surf codes. There are none of the trademark signs, including guns, drug dealer, break an entry, just petty crime such as graffitti and some party fights."

The age range for MLO members can start from 15 upwards and reach anywhere up to 23. With this target age group, there is the usual scenario of fights at parties and people hanging in groups, yet it is no more frequent than any other group in the city of Malibu. The cases was in fact dropped and there is no litigation pending at this stage "

"In the much publicised party fight case, apparently involving Brawley Nolte, no charges were ever filed. The DA never recognised it as a case and declined to press any charges. I think many media reports led to the apple being placed before the horse."

Based in Calabasus, there are four police units at peak times patrolling in Malibu, with 6-8 units during peak periods. In addition to police patrols, many local rsidents have personal security teams overseeing houses.

Member David "Dusty" Olsen - (attributable as "a member")

The MLO isnt really a gang says "casual" member Davis Dusty. Understanding the real point of the MLO is the whole notion of keeping everything localized. There are always lots of fistfights and its mainly between locals and the guys from the valley who invade the local parties and beaches. There was the recent incident where there was a fight at a party and a guy hit in the head with a flashlight this was really blown out of proportion by the media Much of the propaganda generated about the MLO came from the TV news reports.

The MLO was far more organized in the 80s and 90s, though nowadays, its really not what people think, its isnt really a gang anymore, its more just a slogan. Basically its a groupof people who live in the area an who aren't yuppies and its just really a social thing for Malibu people. Its not really anything erious or anything hard. There is a certain click of people involved and they party every night, either at someone's house or on a private beach. Its kind of elitist in that its really where only a certain group of people who are involved.

Most of the trouble stems from Valley kids coming to the beaches in Malibu and surfing our waves. We have no poblem with surfers from other nearby areas coming, its now mainly the valley people.

I think it has been a little distorted, with the attention on people like Brawley Nolte and Ed and Christian Gibson. They do surf and they do live in Malibu, so they kind of get identified as members by default. I think they just know some people who say they are members and are seen at parties where some MLO have been, so they end up being identified as MLO, though in the end, Malibu is a small place and everyone ends up knowing everyone else and they socialize and party together. Its basically a surfer/ local thing inolving beer parties and girls, there really nothing more to it than that."

35 year old Pat Ryan is an MLO "elder"

Many of the MLO are now in the 20's and 30's,

The MLO used to be it was about the surfing and the codes of surfing. We are generally longtime locals, and althouh our parents are admittedly middle class for the most part, we are not rich kids, still this is Malibu, and that will happen. Nowadays, the whole MLO thing has dissipated of being strictly about surfing code to being a a bit of a joke, now there are people who are neither surfers or locals claiming to be members of the MLO.

Yes there was violence but no more than any other surf area where surfers codes are in place. Back in the day this was a lifestyle, a world a cult known the world over type of gang, people lived to surf and nothing more there was a sense of poetry and a sense o passion and conviction in the whole thing.

It was very much aligned to the whole alternative music scene, it was very subversive, very left wing, very much involved with a political; mindset like the environment and liberal attitudes towards drugs and the work ethic. But the reality is nowadays surfing isnt such a rebellious thing to do, its a mainstream sport that girls kids and moms can do, so you begin to wonder about this hardcore elitism.

Attributed as " Local Business Owner," Jay, Owner of Zuma Jay Surfshop ( PCH Malibu)///////

A former LA county deputy sheriff, Jay is personal friends with several members and their parents. "These aren't the everyday gang members who dabble in things like burglary and drug dealing. They aren't exactly living on the edge or on the fringes of society, they are kids living in very comfortable and pampered lives often on big allowances, the children of professional parents such as doctors or lawyers.

As many of these parents don't have much time, the children are often spoilt and poorly disciplined, so they end up getting involved in destructive things towards themselves and their community, like doing drugs and committing vandalism. Some of the yiounger members have repeatedly vandalised the local schools, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Whenever MLO members have a party in the area, you will generallty know about it. They also surf in groups and congregate in areas that are keyed or entry only. Scenarios generally eventuate after when a surfer from the outside comes to Malibu and enters a private beach possibly attempting to surf a break

The MLO surf in keyed and private entry areas. An avid surfer from out of the area might sneak into the area and in turn have a run in with an MLO member and subsequently have his car trashed, maybe even a fistfight. Thats seems to be their trademark behavior, a standard measure to get back at outsiders.

Many of these kids are still in high school, so they tend to congregate at local houses and parties, Some do venture out to parties and bars, with the older members obtaining them fake ID's in downtown LA in order to gain admittance to clubs The MLO have been frowned upon in the local area since the beating incident at a local party. Nowadays they are far less open about publicising themselves as gang members

As a local business owner and father of three children of high school age, Jay has lived in the area for the past 40 years, also has very strong feelings about the group and their unrestrained behavior as brazen adolescents. "They lead pampered existences and seldom have to work or earn a living. They are trust fund kids who dont have to pay for their car, their rent or food. "

"What ends up getting these people out of the gang is the intervention of a lawsuit or an arrest. For the most part, these kids lead a pampered existence and often they are indulgent destructive and reckless until their parents eventually kick them out of the house. They are snapped back into reality when they end up getting older and their parents tell them they have to move out and fend for themselves, its only then that they end up realizing that they aren't going to be rich for their entire lives .

The MLO also have their own clothing and jewelry designed by Bill Wall jewelry. These are insignia fighting rings they combine in sets of four to use as brass nuckles in fights. The gang also have various t-shirts and hats with the initials MLO printed in gothic text.

Clout Owner John Jacobs across from Zuma Beach on PCH

This is overblown media hype. There are some idiots causing occasional trouble, calling themselves MLO. Ed Gibson and Nic Nolte have been linked with the gang, and are often present at gatherings and parties, largely due by default they have been identified as key members. Ultimately Malibu is a small town and often youth socialise together

This is and always has been a rich area and the kids who are brought up rich do normal things, they surf, drink beer, chase girls and fight, they don't sit at home studying the piano. Like any beach community the kids meet after school after work and on the beach, they also have wild parties and have live bands. .

There will be attention on Malibu as its a celebrity rich area. People like Tom Hanks, and Adam Sandler surf, so the attention will be there. As far as the MLO goes, there are about six high profile celebrities involved with the group. They are indirectly involved, not outspoken members. Their parents are respected people who arent happy about their kids being aligned to the type of activity.


Written by Craig Stephens

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