BREAKING: Police Used Pepper Spray On Annapolis Crowd

| July 5, 2010 | 18 Comments

Annapolis Police used pepper spray to subdue holiday melee.

Several reports surfaced earlier this morning of two separate fights after the fireworks show last night night.  One was reported outside of Mangia Italian Grill & Sports Bar where it was reported that there was a stabbing. A separate incident was reported at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

Police initially confirmed that there were two disturbances and, in total,  six youths were arrested and released to the custody of their parents. Police also confirmed, early this morning, that there was not a stabbing.  However, late this morning, we received a very detailed description from a witness to the melee which broke out in front of Mangia. The level of detail lent some credibility to the account and we spent the afternoon trying to get additional details from Mangia, the police and the City.

I was working as a server in Mangias, and the restaurant had mostly emptied out for the fireworks. Many of us employees were standing out front with the crowd or looking out the front windows watching the fireworks. Between 5 and 10 minutes after the show had ended a fight broke out between what looked to be 8-15 young adults or teenagers. Some bystanders were struck or slammed into, and they began what can only be described as an orderly stampede. As the chaos ramped up the police began using either teargas or pepperspray to control the crowd directly in front of Mangias. The restaurant became full in seconds as the crowd rushed their children out of the teargas. Several choking infants were brought in by their distraught mothers. While this occurred the outside violence continued to increase while the police presence continued to increase.

I watched in disgust as 4 smiling and laughing police officers beat an already subdued suspect and screamed at uninvolved people in the crowd to leave or face arrest themselves. I also witnessed them threatening people who were videotaping the incident with the seizure of their phones. They then utilized Mangias as a temporary refugee camp, blocking the doors and refusing to allow customers to leave while they continued to chase down and handcuff any youths who continued to linger. When I walked outside to inquire about when customers could leave again I was told to “Get the $%&$ back inside” and threatened with arrest.

Interestingly enough only 6 people were arrested while there were easily three times that many police on the scene.

The question left on the minds of spectators is why was a mostly uninvolved crowd full of children subjected to pepper spray over an incident caused by 6 people fighting?

–Mangia Italian Grill & Sports Bar Employee

This account was further substantiated by another reliable source who said there was a large fight involving youths which was broken up by the use of “tear gas.”

In a phone call this afternoon, a representative of Mangia’s  confirmed that several young families took refuge in the restaurant coughing and gagging from the spray (presumably) including at least one infant. The restaurant also confirmed that the police refused to allow patrons to leave the restaurant for a period–which is understandable.

City Public Information Officer Phill McGowan, returned our call this afternoon and was able to confirm that there were approximately 20 individuals involved in the fight and officers on the scene requested additional officers.  The Annapolis Police Department did in fact use pepper spray to control the crowd but it was deployed 15-20 yards from the restaurant. Police have also confirmed that some bystanders may have experienced the effects of the spray.  While police say that the business was not impacted, the restaurant disputes that allegation.

Police have said there were no complaints on the use of the pepper spray outside of the individuals involved; however, McGowan said that the police department is prepared to investigate any complaints and encourages anyone with a complaint to contact the police at 410-268-9000.

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Category: Breaking News, Crime News, NEWS

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