On Sunday more than 15,000 people were estimated at an all-day party, near the beach community Isla Vista and the University of California at Santa Barbara, which turned into a massive riot that saw dozens sent to hospitals in Southern California, six police officers injured and more than 100 arrests.
Police officers who responded to the scene were forced to use tear gas and what “foam projectiles,” according to the police department, in order to subdue the unruly and drunken participants who were using bottles and rocks to fight the police from shutting their party down.
The annual party that occurs just before spring break is called “Deltopia.” A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office in Santa Barbara County said that the Southern California community is shocked from what happened last night at this part. She also called it “unbelievable” to imagine people throwing rocks, beer bottles and cans and even bricks at law enforcement officials.
The situation began to deteriorate into a crime scene when a university official was struck in the face with a backpack that was apparently carrying alcohol bottles. A person was supposedly charged with assault with a deadly weapon for striking the campus official. The Sheriff’s department did not say whether or not any of those who were arrested are still in custody but did add that 18 have been charged with refusal to disperse.
Chemical agents were also used to break up the gathering as one police officer was struck in the face with a brick and two more were hit in the head with beer bottles. All of the officers are out of the hospital and do not appear to be suffering any severe damages. One officers will have to have surgery on a hand due to an injury sustained in the fight.
Apparently the partiers were ripping up street signs, lighting fires and damaging police equipment, including police cars. One report said that 44 people were taken to the hospital, but there is no confirmation as to the extent of any of the injuries sustained at the party.
Although the party was not sanctioned by the University of California Santa Barbara a spokesperson for the school said that some of the actions that took place at this riot were “outrageous and extremely dangerous.” The University also said that any student who is found to have violated the law could face University sanction.
A local news team in Southern California has also reported that there were two stabbings in this area that occurred just before the gathering escalated into a riot. The same news station has also reported that one reporter was struck by a beer bottle and another was “overcome by tear gas” as he was attempting to transmit a live video scene to his station from the scene of the riot.
This riot is not the first issue Isla Vista has had in the past, or the first party of its kind to escalate in this fashion this year. In 2009 the part was banned by local officials and last year a student fell from a cliff and died, earlier this year at the Barney Blowout in Amherst students rioted when police tried to break them up. That incident was only slightly less tumultuous than the one in Southern California, leading to more than 70 arrests.
By Nick Manai