At midnight, police were estimating that 100,000 people were on State Street, although people in the crowd continued to be able to walk freely and there were few areas of serious congestion....Overall, was it a successful event? With 100,000 people on the street at midnight and apparently no significant property damage -- in previous years store windows were broken -- it seems as though it was. Surely, the police are entitled to clear a huge crowd at some point, and the pepper spray was used on the folks who insisted on coming back. It seems to me, based on this article, that both the crowd and the police did a nice job. Am I wrong?
The crowd swelled in the 500 block of State Street near the Pub and small groups of mostly young men began singing "Ole, ole, ole," a soccer chant and apparently the anthem of those hoping to see a ruckus in Madison.
At about the same time, police riding horses through the crowd stopped being effective at keeping the crowd moving and dispersing the jumping chanters.
At 1:40 a.m., police turned on a recorded announcement that thanks partiers for coming to State Street and wishes them "safe travel" to their next destination.
Although many revelers did leave, a persistent group of 2,000 or so remained tightly packed in the 500 block.
Matt Sokol, 19, a UW-Whitewater student, said the chanting "is a Madison thing. You do it because you are in Madison."
Sokol and his friends, including Kristi Prokop, 18, said they didn't want to see anyone hurt. But they appeared to feel that to get the full effect of Halloween in Madison, it would include "a riot."
Rioting, most would agree, is not a good word for what happened early Sunday - despite belligerence toward police there was little, if any, serious violence.
Police forced people on the 500 block to the sidewalks several times in attempt to shrink and quell the crowd.
But when people were allowed to fall back into the street once officers left, chanting and jumping would always resume, supplemented by shouted jibes at police.
By 2 a.m., police were telling people to leave, backed up by an all-but inaudible loudspeaker announcement declaring it an unlawful assembly, and forcing those on the 500 block toward State Street mall.
The confrontations between police and the crowd turned ugly when cups filled with beverages and ice were thrown toward officers and horses. A few young men climbed onto a bus shelter and tried to climb light poles in front of the University Inn at Frances Street.
Teams of police started jogging off the street to an area behind the University Inn shortly after that. Word spread through the crowd that they were coming back with "tear gas." Some partiers left, but most remained - again resuming the chanting.
Police in riot-gear showed up and again started herding people off the street, this time using pepper spray, dispersed in bursts from canisters that resemble fire extinguishers.
October 30, 2005
Let's check to see how that Halloween partying on State Street went last night: