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Bellingham police use pepper spray, make arrests at street party

Bellingham Riot

Courtesy Justin Baker

BELLINGHAM – The scene got ugly Saturday night in Bellingham when police were called to disperse hundreds of people at a street party near the campus of Western Washington University (WWU).

Police used pepper spray on hundreds of what police described as “drunk, bottle-throwing college students,” the Bellingham Herald reported.

Lt. Mike Johnson told the paper that police were called to a block party at an apartment complex near Jersey Street around 9:30 p.m.  Police encountered people who reportedly threw beer bottles and cans at the officers. The crowd grew as more college students arrived from other parties in the area, Sam Kaplan, a WWU student told the paper.

Officers in riot gear used “pepper balls,” smoke and flash-bangs to disperse the crowd of approximately 300 to 400, who refused to leave the street, Johnson said. Police made at least three arrests, and it’s not known how much damage was done or if anyone was seriously injured, the paper reported.

A statement from Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard and Western Associated Student Body President Carly Roberts read: “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.”

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