Police use tear gas to quell riot at WMU

By The Michigan Daily  On  September 9th, 2001

KALAMAZOO (AP) A party in a student neighborhood turned violent early yesterday morning, with revelers damaging cars and other property and sending two police officers to the hospital, police said. Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Lt. Douglas Geurink said 21 people were arrested for charges ranging from inciting a riot to assaulting a police officer. He said 46 others received citations for underaged drinking and other misdemeanors. The disturbance started around midnight Saturday when neighbors complained of noise in a largely student neighborhood, Geurink said. The area "has a history of having excessive noise and underage drinking," he said, but has had few problems in recent years. The disturbance was not on the campuses of Western Michigan University or Kalamazoo College, which are located nearby. Police estimate about 2,500 people were gathered in the streets when some began damaging street lamps, signs and other public property and set fires in the streets. Kalamazoo Police responded but were pelted with rocks, bottles, sticks and other flying objects. Other agencies were called in, including the Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff"s Department and Michigan State Police. About 55 officers in riot gear dispersed the crowd with tear gas, Geurink said. "Nobody kind of realized what was going on and all of a sudden comes this wall of riot police spraying Mace and tear gas," Western Michigan student Kevin Wordelman told Grand Rapids television station WOOD-TV. "People were just running, screaming down the street, terrified. If they didn"t have a house to duck into like we did, I don"t know what happened to a lot of the people that were just stuck out in the street," he said. Two Kalamazoo police officers were taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital, where they were treated and released for leg and hand injuries. Geurink said the majority of officers were hit with objects, but they were protected by helmets and shields No one else was injured, Geurink said. Three police cars were damaged, along with other city and private property, but Geurink said no cost estimates were available yet. Officers had the melee under control by about 3:45 a.m., Geurink said. Police don"t know what prompted the disturbance. Police are using videos taken at the scene to try to identify more suspects. "We are going to do everything possible to identify those that broke the law and we will prosecute everyone who broke law," Geurink said.

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