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BREAKING: Police Used Pepper Spray On Annapolis Crowd

| July 05, 2010, 06:41 PM | 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.

If anyone has any additional information to add, photos, or video, please send us an email at [email protected]

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Category: Breaking News, Crime News, NEWS

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Comments (18)

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  1. Mickey says:

    What a ridiculously inflammatory piece. Why are you writing such crap about the police and do a well written piece on how out of hand the young drinking crowd is getting? No dignity, EOA.

  2. John Frenaye says:

    I am not following about how it is inflammatory. We never heard any rumor that the people involved in the altercation were drinking. They were reportedly minors and released to their parents. The story is that there was a large fight last night, the police came in and did their job.

  3. Dave says:

    Mickey this piece is not inflammatory at all. I witnessed all that occurred as I was watching the fireworks right in front of Mangias in the road. Police response was terrible, the fight occurred maybe 100 yards from the incident command RV yet it took almost a minute for the first cop to arrive and break up the brawl, and took another little bit for more than one cop to arrive on the scene. The one cop parked near the area near me who had clear view of the brawl erupting did not rush on to the scene yet slowly creeped his truck forward to get closer instead of jumping out of the truck and trying to stop it while families were caught in the mess. And it is true cops used pepper spray and it was probably not necessary as the fight was winding down and most people had been subdued. The cops then used pepperspray on the crowd which easily could have affected families in the area. It is also true were not letting anyone near Mangias or along that sidewalk and were yelling at people trying to leave the area towards Compromise St. Mickey, I’m sure your generation never did anything wrong, never drank, never had fun. Nah, you are probably from the generation who started experimenting with hallucinogenics and now that your memory is fading you forget that you partied a bit on your youth.

  4. matt says:

    I was there infront of mangias before the fireworks and noticed a large presence of teens in the area. We moved across the bridge to avoid the crowd. Not sure what else the police could’ve done differently. Sure, there are families around, but the focus should be on the teens that caused the fight and not the police response. I’m sure they did what they had to do to control the situation. It really gives a black eye to the city that on such a family friendly event a large melee breaks out. The people arrested should be charged with instigating a riot…

  5. Fred Shubbie®™© says:

    Top 4 reasons to laugh at annapolis….

    4. 4th of July Parade suffers from flowus interuptus
    3.Small Teen fight results in pepper spray demonstration by overly enthusiastic cops
    2. Football size bank bag left on top of safe and stole. No one fired.
    1. Josh Cohen

    I love this town, and to the guy that said the article is inflammatory. Is not !!! This cutting edge news article is highly relevant and will serve as entertainment for weeks to come.

  6. Fred Shubbie®™© says:

    duh, I meant ,stolen not ‘stole’. I mite not be abill to type, but my’s grammer ain’t be deeficient.

  7. Mickey says:

    @John: Inflammatory: tending to excite anger, disorer, or tumult. I think a piece could have been written with more focus on the low quality of the people who break out these fights in Annapolis. Then talk about how the police response was potentially harmful. Then maybe do an intelligent commentary on how the police budget has been cut in half and the police are doing the best they can with very little resources.

    @ Dave: Give me a freaking break. I’m 25, I’ve lived in DTA for 2 years now, I have stumbled down Main Street many a time after drinking a little too much. There is absolutely no excuse for a fight to break out, a knife fight or a gun fight (because those have happened on Main Street, too). And as frustrated as I might be with the police response, effective crowd control like the type that was necessary Sunday night is difficult to perfect. The police have to protect the public and protect themselves, because if they’d gotten hurt in the brawl, they would have been of no help to us.

    I just don’t understand why the headline and the story are so focused on the police, when the public would have been better served by an article on the fight itself, with suggestions for better crowd and safety control.

  8. Fred Shubbie®©™ says:

    Oh Mickey, your opinion is misguided. The headline is a perfectly good headline. It’s not everyday that “Annapolis Police used pepper spray to subdue holiday melee.”
    It is eye catching and makes one want to read the contents. I find nothing overly opinionated in it, do you?

    Let’s dissect the head line. Annapolis Police—the police were in annapolis and employed by the city of Annapolis. used pepper spray– pepper spray was employed. to subdue holiday melee— Factually accurate.

    Now go get drunk and stagger down main street.

  9. John Frenaye says:

    Mikey, the police budget has NOT been slashed in half. Have you read the budget? I am at a loss for the proper headline. “Shoving Match Between Kids, Six Sent Home With Moms & Dads”? Does that accurately convey what happened?

    Let’s assume it escalated and the police were forced to use tasers or guns. Wouldn’t their use of them be considered noteworthy? Had they not used pepper spray, the headline might have read “Police Break Up Large Fight”; but they used a weapon at their disposal that is not typically used–and that in and of itself is note and newsworthy.

    It was not the intent to criticize the police. Quite the contrary–they needed to do what they needed to do and they did it with minimal injury.

    You make it sound like this was a piece just fired off without thought. We had conversations all day (phone and email) with the police, the city, the restaurant, and three witnesses. The final wording was even sent to the City before publication to insure that nothing was misrepresented and the comment back to me as “that is very fair, thanks”.

    So, not sure what else you are looking for, and if you took it as sensationalism, that is something you must have read into it. And, yes, Shubbie is correct, the purpose of a headline (and a secondary one) are to entice the reader to continue reading.

  10. Harry Potter says:

    I was directly accross from Mangia’s, sitting on the edge of the curb. I was there with my 2 kids. Out of nowhere I heard screaming and a wild rush that appeared to be a stampeade came headed towards me.

    Here is a fact… As the fight became out of control and the stampede headed my way, I looked around and there was no police to be seen. Regardless of how APD handled the situation there should have been a much more visable presence of law enforcement.

    And yes, police were very slow to arrive. I was front row for the action. All in all, I think everyone was lucky as my first thought was a huge stampede. It really was a surreal scene with the screaming and running. I was thinking some major event was happening.

    What would have happened if bullets were shot or knives were drawn? And yes, just a few yards away from the incident was a large command RV. By the way I snapped several pics of the fight….

  11. John Frenaye says:

    @Harry—if possible and if you are willing, can you send the photos to us? [email protected] or provide a link if they are stored somewhere?

  12. I was the Mangia’s employee quoted. Sorry that some considered my account to be inflammatory. I was quite angry watching the events unfold.

    I understand many people will support the police mindlessly, but I personally felt that their response was horribly timed, unprofessional, and illogical. The use of pepperspray in a crowd of children to arrest 6 minors is simply pathetic, especially as there were no weapons present, and most of the crowd was completely obedient.

    These are the same clowns that flashbanged a pregnant woman at the wrong address in a no-knock raid last year. Considering the city’s police budget and the sorry performance and accountability it seems to pay for I feel that perhaps we could use less police in Annapolis.

  13. running with scissors says:

    I knew someone would have photo’s of the fight. I think the Annapolis police just aren’t prepared for huge crowds.

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