Police Gird to Prevent Another Palm Springs Disruption
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) _ Hundreds of youths rampaged through this chic resort, throwing rocks and bottles at police and tearing clothing from terrified women in Easter vacation disturbances in which more than 100 people were arrested.
Police planned a show of force today to prevent a recurrence of Friday afternoon’s violence.
An estimated 10,000 youths invaded the city for Easter vacation, and after the disturbances erupted, police declared an illegal assembly and started arresting people. Police also imposed a 10 p.m. curfew for anyone 18 or younger.
″Historically, Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest,″ said police Sgt. David Goodwin. ″We will have a large showing of officers.″
About 120 officers from the Riverside County sheriff’s department and from nearby Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs joined about 80 local police officers by late Friday, Goodwin said.
Officers made about 40 arrests during Friday’s four-hour clash along Palm Canyon Drive in the affluent desert community, Goodwin said. Arrests were for drunkenness, assaulting an officer and failure to disperse.
At midnight, police still faced crowds in the streets, but they were generally manageable, he said.
By early today, police arrested 104 people since the disruption that began Friday afternoon, Goodwin said.
Rocks, bottles, beer cans ″and just about anything else the crowd can get their hands on″ were thrown at officers, Goodwin said.
″Taser guns (electric stun guns) have been seen,″ Goodwin said. ″To our knowledge, nobody has been injured by a Taser gun, no police officer, no student.″
″It’s a younger crowd (than in past years),″ Goodwin said. ″They don’t seem to respect authority.″
″You try to arrest one, and you have 500 all over you for it,″ he said.
There was no significant property damage reported, police Lt. Bill Manger said.
Officers, marching in a phalanx down the Palm Canyon Drive, used a megaphone to order everyone off the street, said Sheila Gratton, a local resident.
″They were cleaning the streets out completely,″ she said.
The emergency room at Desert Hospital was filled with young people. A few were admitted, but most were treated and released, said nursing supervisor Charles Wasserman.
″We’ve been busy 24 hours around the clock,″ said Wasserman, saying more than 100 young people had been treated during the week.
Some youths sprayed Mace at police, but no officers were seriously injured, Goodwin said.
″We’re not calling it a riot,″ he said.
Palm Springs, 110 miles east of Los Angeles, has long been a popular spot for students to gather during the Easter vacation.
″This is the worst since 1969, that’s what people have been saying,″ said police secretary Juleen Gerhardt. That year, a huge throng of young people ran amok through the city.
This year, crowds of young men ripped clothes off several women and youths poured water from ice chests into open-top cars.
Associated Press photographer Douglas Pizac, in town to cover the California Angels baseball team, said he saw at least four incidents in which young men tried to tear clothing from young women in cars.
In one case, six to eight young men surrounded two women in an open Ferrari convertible.
″They started tearing their clothes off,″ said Pizac, who intervened. He said the women, who were wearing T-shirts over two-piece bathing suits, were crying and pleading with the men to stop.
″One had her top torn off and the other had part of her bottom torn off,″ said Pizac. ″I asked them if they were all right after they started driving away, and one of them said ‘I’ll never be the same again.’ She was driving with one hand, keeping her clothes over her chest with the other.″
Cars filled with revelers drove down the street, and youths removed some of their own clothing as they rode along, as others cheered.
Catering truck driver Stan Mozer said a crowd of youths overtook his truck and tore open the doors, stealing food.
″One guy broke the oven doors on the back, and when I confronted him, he turned around and hit me with a 16-ounce Coke bottle,″ said Mozer. ″It hit me on the side of the face.″