The Electric Commentary

Monday, October 31, 2005

Trick-or-teargas!

Tens of thousands showed up for the annual State Street Halloween party and I, for one, had a blast. Everyone seemed to have a great time. It certainly seemed like a success to me. But to read the papers and listen to the police chief and mayor, you would think otherwise:

"There were no reports of serious injuries or property damage," Police Chief Noble Wray and Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said in a joint statement Sunday. "But for the fourth year in a row, police had to don riot gear and deploy pepper spray to clear a disorderly and dangerous crowd."

Okay, so if no one was injuring anyone and no one was damaging property, why did police have to don riot gear and deploy pepper spray? Then there's this:

City officials like Downtown Alderman Mike Verveer who witnessed the pepper spraying had only praise for Madison police, saying they tried first to clear State Street by walking through the crowd and playing messages on a loudspeaker. Verveer said police felt they had to spray a rowdy crowd on the 500 block of State Street, where at least some were chanting "We want tear gas!" Some revelers said the pepper spray also affected innocent bystanders. State Street Brats bartender Jason Heyerdahl said employees in the bar had to climb to the second floor after pepper spray drifted through the front door.

It seems to me that city officials created a situation where kids expect to get rowdy and police expect to use pepper spray. When that's the case, you're going to have a rowdy crowd getting pepper sprayed. My hunch is that if our idiot mayor would just shut the hell up and the cops would keep their pepper spray out of it, the crowd would eventually disperse without inicident. Wishful thinking. But I had fun and I didn't have any run-ins with the cops. Here's last year's Halloween post.

And this looks like some spooky Halloween news.

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