The Wheeler Street Riot
by Michael Kleen
This past Saturday, police in full riot gear, armed with chemical irritants, pepper spray, batons, and a sound cannon, confronted hundreds of students at a block party on Wheeler Street near Western Illinois University. Gathered near their large, white van, officers from several different police forces around the state (who were formed into the “West Central Illinois Mobile Field Force”) waited as loudspeakers ordered the students to leave. “We are ordering you to disperse,” it said in an electronic tone. “Leave now or chemical munitions may be used.” The warning was followed by a piercing siren that reverberated across the garbage-strewn sidewalks and lawns.
Then, between 5:30 and 6pm, riot police formed a line and began spraying chemical agents into the crowd and into at least one nearby home, where students were tightly packed onto the porch and in their living room. Anyone with a camera was warned that they were breaking the law by filming the actions of the police. Anyone who stepped close to the advancing line of black-clad officers was quickly Maced and brought to the ground. Some students jeered and booed from their porches. “You would have thought it was a third world country,” one student told the Western Courier.
What justified this extreme action on the part of police? According to authorities, the level of behavior at the block party had become “too egregious” and “would have continued to escalate without intervention.” But what are the facts?
Posted on May 4, 2011, in Columns and tagged Alvin Goldfarb, police state, Riot, Riot Police, Tear Gas, Western Illinois University, Wheeler Street Block Party. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.