James Madison block party turns into riot
An annual multi-block party near James Madison University in Virginia, dubbed Springfest by students, usually attracts about 2,000 people. But this year, more than 8,000 people gathered in popular student neighborhoods to celebrate the warm weather -- and when officers announced on loud speakers that everyone needed to leave late Saturday afternoon, no one listened.
Instead, some of them threw beer and liquor bottles, started fights and broke windows, The JMU Breeze reports.
The local police department asked for help from multiple agencies and more than 200 officers, many dressed in riot gear, worked to shut down the party. The Breeze reported that officers threw tear gas grenades, released pepper spray and hit party-goers with rubber bullets and beanbags.
By the end of the night, police had made more than 30 arrests (although, they are still tallying them up) and responded to a stabbing. Three or four people were flown to the U.Va Medical Center and about 30 people were treated at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, although police did not have details on the injuries Sunday, The Breeze reports.
Additionally, more than a dozen officers sustained minor injuries, including cuts and bruises from thrown beer bottles and rocks, Lt. Kurt Boshart of the Harrisonburg Police Department told The Breeze.
Sunday evening JMU President Linwood Rose said in an e-mail to the campus community, "Your collective behavior was an embarrassment to your university and a discredit to our reputation."
But those causing problems weren't necessarily just JMU students. Boshart told The Breeze that a large segment of the crowd came from other colleges, such as Virginia Tech, Washington and Lee, and William & Mary. "We had people from Fairfax coming in with no ties to JMU whatsoever," Boshart told The Breeze.
In addition to those arrested over the weekend, Boshart told The Breeze that officers videotaped the crowd and will press further charges if they are able to identify any more perpetrators. The university's Judicial Affairs will also receive the arrest information for students.
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