Riots end annual block party
Sun, 01 May 2011 19:39:09 GMT —
UPDATED: May 2 at 5:50 p.m.
Macomb's police chief defends the officers who ended an out-of-control party Saturday.
An annual block party near the Western Illinois University campus turned violent after visitors began assaulting police and vandalizing areas along Wheeler Street. Many people at the party caught the whole thing on camera. You can see some of that video below.
An estimated three thousand people attended this event, spending much of the day consuming alcohol. Later that afternoon, high blood alcohol levels resulted in a clash with police and numerous tickets and arrests.
In the videos, you can see officers spraying mace, not tear gas, at the crowds trying to break the party up. Some of our viewers on Facebook disagreed with the actions that took place.
Lori Worthington on Facebook wrote, "yes, the kids who caused damage to property and throwing trash all over the place, should be arrested, but the kids having fun, should have been left alone."
Police Chief Curt Barker thinks otherwise.
"Everybody was told to leave, so technically, if you're standing there and you're walking up to the crowd control unit and screaming, you're subject to disorderly conduct and that's what those individuals were charged with," said Barker. "We had undercover officers in the crowd, watching for individuals throwing beer bottles, and those people were grabbed and charged with aggravated battery."
Barker says the party doubled in size this year, usually contained to a one block area, this year party goers inhabited a two block stretch.
The city of Macomb denied a block party permit submitted by Wheeler street party organizers, so the event was not authorized by the city. Barker says residents along that portion of Wheeler Street, as well as the organizers of the party, got warnings before the event, asking them to keep the party under control. There will be more citations handed out later this week.
UPDATED: May 2 at 10:04 a.m.
KHQA's Brooke Hasch is going to be on WIU's campus Monday to get more reaction on the Saturday violence.
We've reached out to local authorities and hope to have more information, so check this story later and watch KHQA's News at Five, KHQA's Evening News at 6 p.m. and KHQA's Late News at 10 p.m.
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An annual block party near the Western Illinois University campus turned violent Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of people attended the Wheeler Street Block Party Saturday, spending much of the day consuming alcohol. Later in the afternoon, a clash with police resulted in numerous tickets and arrests.
There were reports that tear gas and mace were also used to get the crowds under control. You can see several of those instances in this amateur video shot here . (Warning: not censored.)
"We had riot officers walk all along the side of these houses off of Albert Street, and they would come. We had a state police officer right here, a state police car, and then some officers slowly creeping up. Then out of no where you see a gang of riot officers come out in full armor gear," said student Julio Rausseo.
Police were met with rowdy students pelting them with glass beer bottles. Hundreds of students were standing outside homes on Wheeler Street. Police were present at the block party throughout the day.
It wasn't until later in the afternoon that calls for medical help to treat high blood-alcohol levels began coming in.
Crowds began throwing glass bottles while vandalizing areas on campus, and at that point, the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System Mobile Field Force was called in to break up the crowd.
"For the most part lots of students complied with that. A vast majority complied they were out of there. But, the ones who had been drinking heavily and a lot who had no commitment simply didn't care and they were quite clear about telling us that," said VP of Student Services W. Garry Johnson.
WIU President Dr. Goldfarb released a statement on WIU's website saying 104 citations, "were issued to 89 individuals as of May 1. Of those, nearly 50 percent were non-WIU students, and several more non-students engaged in yesterday's inappropriate and illegal behaviors. The vast majority of our nearly 11,000 Macomb campus students does not participate in such events and truly represents the high caliber of students we have at WIU. "
Some students were maced by officers... Some even went to jail... Derrick Enlow falls into both categories.
"They're probably just tired of what's going on. The amount of force that they used, I can't really give you a reason why it happened. I don't think it should have happened that way. They probably could have done things a little bit better and handled the situation more effectively but that's not my call," said student Derrick Enlow
"Our first concern is our student's safety, the safety of our community, and the safety of the property in and around our community," said Johnson.