What Happened Yesterday at Carson Beach?

The official line is that more than 1,000 kids took to Facebook and Twitter, organizing massive brawls that they carried out yesterday afternoon at Carson Beach. If that’s true, it’s scary, and represents a level of orchestration and cooperation among the city’s teenagers — many of them surely gang members — not normally seen here, where individual streets define a clique.

But Adam Gaffin over at Universal Hub offers a competing theory, just as plausible.

So why would 1,000 teens show up at Carson Beach? Because it was hot. And a holiday. And you can get there by subway.

Were there troublemakers getting into fights? Yes. Did a lot of the kids stand around and watch? You bet. Does Boston have a gang problem? Yes.

But of course none of this shows a pre-planned unholy melee, either. For instance, today’s piece in the Globe finds a mother whose young son was just trying to get his shoe on and was nearly crushed by the onslaught of people that the State Police ordered to keep moving after the fight, the people who presumably helped cause the fight. What could have just as likely happened yesterday? Some kids formed a circle around other kids brawling, and then other kids started fighting, until it looked like everyone was fighting or at least knew where to go to watch a brawl.

The problem here isn’t law enforcement’s response but how it’s been interpreted. Gaffin’s right to rail against this morning’s tweet from Channel 7’s Anne Allred, who believes that over 1,000 kids showed up to watch rival gang members fight. That’s already an iteration beyond the original narrative, a narrative that has yet to be proven accurate. The trouble with reporting crime is that you can’t often talk with the criminals who carry out the acts. So what you get are alarming headlines and misguided tweets.

Whatever happened yesterday was severe enough for the Staties to call in back up. But not every incident is the microcosm of a trend.