Daily Mail Online: LONDON, England – An out-of-control street party near the campus of the University of Colorado turned destructive and violent on Saturday as three officers were injured as they sought to break up the illegal gathering and numerous vehicles were damaged.
The chaos unfolded just after 8pm yesterday evening in the University Hill neighborhood of Boulder, as an estimated 800 people – many forgoing face masks – gathered near Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street.
Officers from the Boulder Police Department were on scene by 8:30pm and used loudspeakers to warn the crowd they must disperse or otherwise risk arrest, tear gas or use of force.
But the already unruly scenes escalated further, with revelers shooting off fireworks in the road, flipping over a nearby car and allegedly throwing projectiles at police and other first responders.
Three Boulder SWAT team members were injured when they were hit with bricks and rocks, police said. An armored vehicle and firetruck also sustained heavy damage.
Boulder PD said on Twitter that it’s reviewing all of its officers’ body camera footage, in addition to reviewing social media posts, to “identify the individuals involved in damaging property and assaulting first responders”.
Officers from the Boulder Police Department were on scene by 8:30pm and used loudspeakers to warn the crowd they might disperse or otherwise risk arrest, tear gas or use of force
In a statement, the University of Colorado condemned the illegal gathering, and warned than any student found to have attacked police and other first responders during the mayhem will be expelled.
“It is unacceptable and irresponsible, particularly in light of the volume of training, communication and enforcement the campus and city have dedicated to ensuring compliance with COVID-19 public health orders. CU Boulder will not tolerate any of our students engaging in acts of violence or damaging property,” the school said.
“We appreciate the efforts of law enforcement to address the unacceptable conduct of these students and apologize to the residents of University Hill for their behavior.”
Police first started receiving complaints about the gathering at around 7pm local time at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street, about five blocks west of the university campus.
Hundreds of college-aged carousers packed the street, with no social distancing and very little mask wearing, the Daily Camera reported.Boulder police spokeswoman Dionne Waugh said police estimated that there may have been up to 800 people in the area at one stage.
A SWAT vehicle arrived and began telling those gathered over the loud speaker to disperse at around 8:30pm.
The moment was captured on video by the Daily Camera’s Mitchell Byars.
A large number of those present did comply with the demands upon seeing the police vehicle, Waugh said, however some did remain on scene.
The truck deployed two canisters of tear gas, and then drove through the street blaring a high-pitched siren in an attempt to disperse the remaining revelers.
“Due to riot conditions, you are ordered to leave the area. You must leave the area immediately. If you fail to leave, you will be subject to arrest and the use of tear gas,” the cops can be heard saying in the clip.
Police said they opted to use only a small amount of tear gas because they didn’t want to further agitate an already hostile crowd.
University of Colorado: Full Statement:
“We are aware of a large party on University Hill on Saturday evening and allegations of violence toward police officers responding to the scene. We condemn this conduct. It is unacceptable and irresponsible, particularly in light of the volume of training, communication and enforcement the campus and city have dedicated to ensuring compliance with COVID-19 public health orders. CU Boulder will not tolerate any of our students engaging in acts of violence or damaging property.
“CU Boulder has made it clear to our student body that following county public health orders is required under the student code of conduct. The vast majority of our students have followed these directives. When health officials and police have referred public health order violations to our student conduct office, CU Boulder has responded quickly and imposed discipline when violations were established. Disciplinary actions include interim exclusions from campus and 45 suspensions so far this academic year. We will continue to take these actions to make clear that protecting our community and our campus is of utmost importance and that we will not tolerate such violations. Any student who is found responsible for having engaged in acts of violence toward the law enforcement or other first responders will be removed from CU Boulder and not readmitted.
We appreciate the efforts of law enforcement to address the unacceptable conduct of these students and apologize to the residents of University Hill for their behavior.”
Over the next hour, police and party attendees clashed as projectiles were thrown and cars, including police vehicles, were damaged.
By 9:30pm most of the revelers had cleared out, police said.
In total, three SWAT officers suffered minor injuries after being struck by bricks and rocks.
One of the officers was struck in the head but all three are now said to be in good condition.
‘It could have been much worse,’ Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said Sunday.
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty also condemned the party, calling it ‘shameful’.
Dougherty released a statement on Sunday, saying his office is working with detectives to identify suspects who ‘should be held fully responsible for their outrageous actions.’
‘Our community was put at risk last night by the individuals involved in the incident in the Hill area. Their callous disregard for our community’s safety and well-being is shameful,’ he said. “There is no excuse for this conduct, especially while the people of this community endure the pandemic.”
An unidentified man told CBS Denver the party and its subsequent clash with police was bound to happen.
‘When we’re all caged up for months there’s going to be an explosion, and this was the explosion,’ the man said.
A group of students, who also asked not to be named, told the network: ‘No one was trying to do anything harmful. It’s the cops that were trying to harm us.
“It’s sad, but when kids are locked up for months they act like animals.”
It also came just one day after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis extended the state’s Covid-19 mask mandate, which has been in place since July 2020.
As of Sunday, 438,000 residents of Colorado have so far tested positive for COVID-19 and 6,075 people have died.
Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach said officials expect to see an increase in coronavirus cases after the party-turned-riot on Saturday.
In response to yesterday night’s events, some students organized a call to action to help clean up the mess and debris left behind by partygoers on Sunday morning.
One of the organizers of the clean up, Hailey Breaker, a CU Boulder senior who’s studying environmental studies said: “A lot of the partiers today, they didn’t necessarily consider the consequences and they may not live on that street to visibly see the aftermath of what happened.”
While Breaker says she doesn’t live on 10th Street, she lives close enough by to hear the commotion last night, including fireworks being set off.
“I was just disappointed,’ she said of the event. ‘ I do understand the need to socialize with peers, but it was in such mass quantities and a lot of students just went back to in-person classes.”
Breaker said she hopes Sunday’s clean up sends a message about CU Boulder students.
“I hope that it shows that a lot of us do care about the Boulder community and keeping it clean,’ Breaker said. ‘CU is and can be a really great place to be and it’s not just a place where these parties are happening.”
Top Feature Photo: The chaos unfolded just after 8pm yesterday evening in the University Hill neighborhood of Boulder, as an estimated 800 people – many forgoing face masks – gathered near Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street