Madison in an Uproar! Hundreds Arrested in Halloween Revelry

A weekend of Halloween celebrations popular with college students resulted in more than 400 arrests in Madison, WI, and police used bursts of pepper spray early Sunday to break up crowds of revelers.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz suggested canceling the annual gathering. The downtown party near the University of Wisconsin-Madison attracts college students from across the Midwest, and has turned chaotic in the past. Last year, 455 were arrested.

"Every year there's a certain group of people who come hell-bent on starting fights with police and other citizens and we can't seem to shake that," Cieslewicz said. "The only way to end it is to order State Street shut down, every business, for a couple of nights."

Police used officers on horseback early Sunday to move chanting and beverage-tossing revelers off State Street, a mile-long stretch of bars, restaurants and shops. The pepper spray was used after cups filled with beverages and ice were thrown or poured on officers.

Most arrests were for alcohol-related offenses, including underage drinking, said Lt. Pat Malloy. He said the local detoxification center was filled to capacity and some people had to be taken to emergency rooms.

There were 269 arrests overnight and 178 the night before, Police Chief Noble Wray said. "I wonder what Sunday night and Monday night will bring us?" he asked.

The university had taken steps to control the chaos this year, prohibiting visitors from dormitories and warning Big 10 and other Midwest schools that students shouldn't come. City officials and the university have said most of the problems are caused by out-of-town visitors.

Elsewhere, police in Athens, Ohio, home of Ohio University, made 95 arrests at a Saturday night Halloween block party. Police described the crowd as belligerent but smaller than previous years. Forty-eight of those arrested are college students, officers said.

One man was stabbed in the hand and a woman was injured escaping from an attempted rape, Athens police spokesman James Mann said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: And Lisa Hancock wondered out loud a couple days ago if Halloween celebrations had gotten out of hand. In Detroit, I presume they are still burning down buildings over the Devil's night commemoration. I know that by comparison it made our Neewollah/Octoberfest events of the past week look like a Sunday School outing. Madison seems to get this trouble ever year also. I know our police here in Independence were busy, but nothing I guess like Madison, WI or Detroit. PAT]
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