Friday, February 15, 2008

Riot erupts on Evergreen College campus


OLYMPIA, Wash. - Thurston County Sheriff's deputies have sent blood and fingerprint samples to the state crime lab in their quest to find suspects in an early Friday morning riot at Evergreen State College in Olympia.

Roughly 200 people were involved in the melee on the campus following a rap concert in the school gym. Sheriff's deputies made no arrests in the riot, but they want to hold someone accountable.

Authorities claim this was far more serious than first reported, that concert goers tried to grab guns from deputy holsters, pelted them with rocks and caused a fair amount of destruction at the campus.

Video captured by The Olympian newspaper shows the wild scene just before 2 a.m. SWAT teams stormed the Evergreen State College campus after a mob overturned a deputy's cruiser.

Alvina Wong was at the Dead Prez concert inside the school gym and watched as an Evergreen campus officer broke up a fight and tried to arrest one of the participants, which sparked a mob mentality.

"The crowd just kept getting bigger and bigger," said Wong. "The band did kind of egg it on and questioned why he was being detained."

"From what I understand the band was encouraging people to take care of the situation to stop the person from making the arrest," said Trooper Brandy Kessler, Washington State Patrol.

A group of concertgoers surrounded the officer, causing her to call for backup. When Thurston County Sheriff's deputies arrived, they say they found a group of 200 people, some throwing rocks, garbage cans and bent on destruction.

"The gang just went at the car and tore it up," said Wong.

A sheriff's deputy's car got tagged, its windows smashed, and was flipped over. Vandals tagged two college buildings. Three other cop cars also suffered minor damage.

A SWAT team tear gassed the group and the mob left the area. The college believes the group was not made up entirely of evergreen students.

"The crowed for this event came from all over the entire region," said Jason Wettstein, Evergreen State College. "The original person who started the fight wasn't even an Evergreen student."

One student said the rap act Dead Prez did not encourage the crowd.

The one police cruiser is a complete loss. It was also looted. A police laptop and radar gun were missing, but no one was seriously injured and no weapons were taken.

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