Police Break Up Melee Near Western Washington U.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Police arrested three people Sunday during a melee near Western Washington University (WWU) after hundreds of party-goers threw projectiles at authorities trying to disperse the crowd.

The incident started on Saturday evening after police broke up a party at an apartment complex party near the college around 9 p.m. Many partygoers moved to nearby Laurel Park and were joined by more people, Associated Press reports.

As many of 500 people, described by police as an intoxicated, disorderly crowd, congregated at the park. Partygoers threw bottles, cinder blocks, dinner plates and patio furniture at police officers, who had to use pepper spray to disperse the crowd. It took around 45 minutes to clear the area.

Three people ranging in age from 19 to 23 face charges including riot, malicious mischief, reckless endangerment, failing to disperse and obstruction. None of those arrested so far is a WWU student.

That said, WWU President Bruce Shepard has vowed to expel any student involved in the confrontation with police.

Here’s the full text from Shepard and Associate Student Body President Carly Roberts’ statement on the matter:

Last night, in the vicinity of our campus, several hundred people refused to obey a lawful order to disperse.

The extent to which university students may have been involved has yet to be determined. Of the three arrests made, none were Western students.

Nevertheless, this “riot” in the community we are proud to call home has stunned us all, for it is so out of character. We are a university consistently recognized as the best of our type in the Pacific Northwest. Importantly in the current context, we are also a university recognized nationally, year after year, as foremost in the state of Washington for the engagement of our students in service to the community.

Consequently, we are all straining to understand why something like this happened. But first some facts as we currently understand them:

  • We are thankful that, at this point, there are no reported serious injuries.
  • We are also thankful that Western students were prominent among those who immediately stepped forward to clean up the area of the riot.
  • While no Western students were among those arrested last night, public safety officers will be reviewing surveillance videos and criminal charges may then follow.
  • Western will be reviewing records from the evening, and should there be evidence of Western student behavior, while not criminal but nevertheless in violation of our student conduct code, then our processes for enforcing that code will be followed.

We are a university that takes great pride in the commitments of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni to making a positive difference. We invite you to join the two of us in reaffirming that commitment. We will be following up with advice on means for so doing.

Again, we do not yet know the extent of involvement by Western students in the events of last night. Arrest records suggest it was a fraction of the several hundred involved. Nevertheless, we are certain of this: 15,000 students, 2,200 faculty and staff, and 100,000 alumni join the two of us in emphasizing that such behavior has no place at Western. And, should any of our students be found to have engaged in lawless and destructive behavior, they have no place at Western.

This is also a teachable moment: for our students, for our university, and for university leaders. We pledge to use this experience as an opportunity to ever more strongly emphasize—through actions as well as words—what we proudly and together stand for.

Read the full story.

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