Macomb Police use gas and sound weapons on revelers
May 1, 2011
Police gone wild or party out of control?
During the annual Wheeler Street Block Party in Macomb, Illinois, police and members of the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System Mobile Field Force sprayed chemical agents and used sound cannons to break up revelers Saturday afternoon. Macomb is the home of Western Illinois University and 11,000 students that live on and around campus.
Multiple videos uploaded to the video sharing site YouTube depict a scene of a single block in Macomb littered with garbage from an apparent all night party. According to McDonoughVoice.com, police summoned the Mobile Field Force after "calls for medical help to treat high blood-alcohol levels began coming in."
According to a Sunday release from WIU President, Al Goldfarb, 89 people were arrested as a result of the police showing up. There was a 50/50 split of non-students and students who were eventually detained. Students who were arrested will face disciplinary charges from the school.
Goldfarb said of those arrested, they are "individuals [who] have such little respect for themselves, their community and their university, and that they, along with visitors to this community, can tarnish Western Illinois University's reputation." In Goldfarb's statement there was no mention of the use of chemical agents on seemingly peaceful party-goers merely standing around watching the spectacle of riot police marching down their street.
Below are several videos of the moment police in riot gear bearing gas sprays and a mobile sound cannon.
Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ysvcf0_iG9Q
In the above video you can see one individual standing in front of the line of police in riot gear who ultimately gets sprayed in the face with a chemical agent and then another person is grabbed and taken into custody by officers.
From moeowaynat35 on YouTube
From 104mbc on YouTube
There is no question that the revelers throwing bottles, and it is apparent in some of the videos that is indeed the case, are acting inappropriately under normal circumstances. But, when several dozen police wearing riot gear and state and local officers wielding chemical agents show up to a block party, those are not normal circumstances.
What will be said about the authorities' liberal use of mace/tear gas and sound cannons on a group of nonviolent party-goers? Probably not much. Will there be any outcry for accountability from the officers using chemical agents on students who were just standing on front lawns? Probably not. But, you may see the above videos and others being taken down because of Illinois Eavesdropping Act which makes it illegal to record audio and video of police officers even in public. Where does the accountability rest?