Hamptons Police Blotter: History Sparks Fights, Controversy, Especially for McGumbus

East End gang tag at Conscience Point
East End gang tag at Conscience Point, Photo: Oliver Peterson (with Nastco/iStock/Thinkstock)

Gangs of the East End
A fight that’s been simmering for over 150 years suddenly burst violently into the open over the holiday weekend, as rival gangs from the North and South Forks engaged in an epic confrontation that involved fights on land and sea. The two main gangs involved were the Southampton-based Priveteers and the Southold-headquartered Young’s Boys, and their dispute involved which town, Southampton or Southold, qualifies as the first English settlement in New York.

Hostilities broke out when a small group of Young’s Boys intentionally trespassed on Priveteer territory in North Sea, scrawling the message “Southold Was Here (Before Southampton)” on a boulder near Conscience Point. This was too much for the Priveteers, who set upon the trespassers with homemade weapons and rocks, causing serious injuries. The Young’s Boys took revenge, and soon the streets of Southampton and Southold were ablaze with indiscriminate violence and rage. The fighting involved several skirmishes between boats on Peconic Bay as well.

Police were stretched thin as they labored to bring calm to the area and tend to the wounded, but by late Sunday night order seemed to have returned. The question of which town has the right to claim the coveted “First English Settlement” status remains unresolved.

McGumbus Independence Day Shocker
Old Man McGumbus, Shelter Island’s 104-year-old WWII veteran and amateur electrician, held his annual Fourth of July tribute to the Founding Fathers last Friday. The event quickly became a police matter, as one of the festival’s events inspired numerous calls to the authorities. While the reenactment of young George Washington chopping down the cherry tree went off without incident (although McGumbus’s neighbor later called in to report that a cherry tree on his property had been chopped down without his permission), the “Kitty Cat Ben Franklin” tableau vivant was much more controversial. No laws were broken, investigators determined after arriving on the scene to find a cat dressed like the founding father and holding a kite string, but out of an abundance of caution, they ordered McGumbus to release the feline from his costume (although the cat was allowed to stay for the rest of the celebration).

In a statement released the following morning through his spokesperson, McGumbus was defiant: “Our forefathers fought those redcoats so a man, and his cat, could do as they please. Can’t dress up as Benjamin Franklin? Can’t fly a kite? What happened to our independence and freedom of expression? Where did life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness go? We may as well be British!”

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