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Tear Gas Used to Break Up ‘Wilding’

August 18, 2002

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CINCINNATI (AP) _ Police used tear gas to break up a crowd of more than 2,000 youths who ran through the downtown Black Family Reunion festival Saturday night starting fights and overturning tables, authorities said.

The fighting started as festival was letting out around 10 p.m. at Sawyer Point Park along the Ohio River, said Cincinnati Police spokesman Lt. Kurt Byrd. About 70,000 people attended the reunion on a Saturday last summer.

Smaller groups of 10 to 150 youths, mostly 16- to 18-year-olds, moved from the park into Fountain Square in the downtown center. They continued fighting and tipped trash cans and newspaper racks, Byrd said.

The youths ``began what some may call ‘wilding,’ moving through as a large fluid crowd,″ he said.

At least eight people were arrested for disorderly conduct, including two who also were arrested for resisting arrest.

There were reports of gunshots, and several people were taken to the hospital with injuries, Byrd said.

He blamed the disturbance on the combination of hot, humid weather and a large number of unsupervised youths.

Officers’ efforts to empty the downtown were complicated by crowds leaving the Cincinnati Reds game. At about 11:30 p.m., storms moved into the city, helping police disperse the crowds.

The three-day festival, which continues Sunday, features events and presentations designed to focus positive attention on black families.

Cincinnati had three days of rioting in April 2001 after a white police officer shot a black man who was fleeing officers.

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