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Police Quell Wis. Halloween Riot

November 4, 2002

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Police used tear gas and pepper spray early Sunday to quell a disturbance that escalated into bottle-throwing and looting during a Halloween party attended by an estimated 65,000 people.

More than 100 police helped break up the riot, and eight suffered minor injuries, mainly from thrown objects, authorities said. At least 16 people were arrested.

``This is the first time I can remember that we ever had police officers put on protective equipment, and I’ve been here since 1980,″ Madison Police Sgt. Patrick Grady said.

The party is held each year on State Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, dotted with restaurants and small shops and connecting the state Capitol to the University of Wisconsin campus.

Police said the rampage began about 1:30 a.m., possibly after some people began fighting with bottles. When police tried to help some injured people, others threw bottles at them.

``I’m sure alcohol had a big part of this,″ Grady said.

People threw bottles at apartment windows, and some residents retaliated with bottles, injuring at least two people, police said. Others ripped out street signs and bike racks, threw bricks, tipped trash barrels and newspaper vending machines and started a small fire.

For several hours, the crowd smashed windows in nine businesses and looted two in a two-block area before police regained control. Lt. Cameron McLay said those arrested were charged with battery and looting.

The huge crowd early Sunday included many out-of-towners.

``It’s not unusual for a lot of people to come from around the nation,″ Grady said. ``It’s usually a good time and a safe time.″

State Street was still closed late Sunday morning.

``We had to reroute buses. It’s so trashed they just can’t go down there,″ Grady said.

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