As many of you have noted, the news coverage does very little justice to the events of last night. I am going to do my best to summarize my experience, the excellent liveblogging done by other Wesleying staff, and various comments, etc.
First: 5 students were taken into custody during the events I have described. Three have been released, 1 with a $5000 bail (although no felony charges), 1 with no charges, and the third I am unsure about. Two remain in the hospital and will be charged when they are released. The exact extent of their injuries is unknown.
Second: Michael Roth is holding a meeting/press conference on these events this morning at 9 AM. He has invited everyone to participate.
Contributors: please edit this to your hearts content. I know I missed a lot, and certainly I got some things wrong.
Last night at approximately 1 AM several hundred students congregated outside of 25 Fountain. PSafe was there, and it was certainly a party, but hardly rowdy. There was no music except for some that which was drifting in from various house parties–Buru Style had gotten broken up earlier in the evening. PSafe was actually very friendly and approachable, greeting and joking with students they knew. However, they were trying to clear students off the street for quite some time.
At around 1:15, 7 Middletown Police cars arrived. As they were arriving, a bottle thrown by a student struck the windshield of the front police car, which instantly stopped. The police were unable to apprehend whoever threw the bottle.
(Note: WTNH is reporting that P-Safe called in the MPD and State Police to try to break up the party. -Justin)
For the forty-five minutes or so, the police tried to break everyone up. Most of the time, they just stood in the middle of the street talking to each other and walking around. Very few people left, and several chants and renditions of the fight song broke out at various times. Someone’s car alarm kept going off. Near the end, a smoke bomb exploded amid the police cars – probably a student action.
A K9 unit arrived (comprised of none other than Officer Douglas Clark, of Sour Patch fame), and several officers started suiting up with paintball guns, which would later turn out to be full of pepper balls (ie, they’re full of pepper spray, which releases on impact). The police then made an announcement over the loudspeaker of the front car, telling everyone to disperse. Nobody left.
If you want to picture the scene, think a typical packed Fountain party on a misty night. Line the entire street with MPD cars. Both sides of the street were flanked with curious/bewildered students with digicams and camera phones, and right in front of the first MPD car in the middle of the road is basically a clusterfuck of maybe 50-100 people. It’s this cluster that’s doing most of the chanting/singing/clapping.
About five minutes later, the police formed a line and started moving forward with their dogs and firing their paintball guns. A canister of tear/pepper gas was fired into the air. At this point it was pure chaos–One person made a run for it and was promptly brought to the ground by five MPDs. Picture people screaming at the police, students physically restraining other students, and one of the arrested kids kicking a patrol car’s door so hard that it bent the frame from the inside and nearly knocked out the window (EDIT: I should clarify that this is from inside of the car, AFTER the shooting/gassing started and he had been tackled/restrained/handcuffed). MPD began menacingly shining the laser guides of their tasers at people. Five students were apprehended for various reasons (I saw at least one running). Of these, two were tasered, and at least three were viciously attacked by the dogs. Many people suffered from the pepper gas because the wind blew it across the crowd, towards Church Street. There was a lot of coughing and people covering their noses and mouths with their shirts. At some point, maybe out of spite, someone went into a house and turned up the music even louder. Students began asking for badge numbers and for reasons for the police presence and why their friends had gotten arrested. At some point state troopers showed up, but by then most of the action was over.
Twenty minutes later – nobody had left. The police got into their cars and drove away, to the crowd’s applause. Gradually the crowd began to disperse, with many wandering over to senior Fauver, outside of which Michael Roth (who was awoken by an enterprising pair of students) was giving a speech. Several news vans were in attendance. At this point, Fountain cleared and remaining psafe officers went around speaking with students, offering medical assistance and generally doing damage control.
Later, a crowd of about sixty-five students congregated at the police station, with nearly every one filing a complaint (I’ve addressed the efficacy of these complaints in an earlier post; let’s start writing some letters!). At approximately 4:30 AM, the remaining two students in custody were released.
Two students remain hospitalized, and the hospital is unwilling to give out any information on their condition except to family members. It is likely that at least one of these students will be facing more severe charges than the rest.
At 9 AM, Michael Roth will be holding a meeting/press conference in his office in South College. He has invited anyone interested to attend and participate.