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    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Breaking News: Near Riot In Downtown Springfield

    Downtown Springfield early yesterday morning was like a scene from an LA news report.

    Large crowds, officers arresting a man with a gun, brawls breaking out in the middle of the intersection of Campbell avenue and St. Louis streets, a canister gun, police dogs, pepper spray, and billy clubs at the ready.

    Before we got out our phones, we saw the police stop a car moving south down north Campbell street, and arrest him. At the time of the above images, he was in the third police car east of the intersection. We also saw them take a loaded gun from him and empty the bullets out of it, onto the street.

    The Springfield Missouri interactive crime scene map has "weapon violation" and "notes" for the happenings, but nothing else.

    Talk on the street, and basic conjecture based on what we saw with our own eyes leads us to believe that the following is as close to the full story as we are going to get.

    The police raided a wild party that was happening at ERA, one of the local rental venues downtown. When one of the participants tried to run in his car, a short chase ensued, which led him to drive the wrong way down a one-way street. They headed him off at the pass, so to say, and blocked his passage, effectively trapping him in place. When they approached his car, he brandished a handgun, which they quickly removed from his possession and place in an officer's car, then removed him from his car, handcuffing and pushing him against his vehicle for a quick search before placing him into one of the nine attending police cars.

    Not very many people were around for that part, just a few curious onlookers on their way to to and from the bars downtown, and us at the top of Rendevous coffee house, who had let our Tupperware fund-raising meeting screech to a halt in order to view the unfolding events.

    As the crowd grew, however, things got rowdy. I can only assume that after busting the party, the police screened the attendees and let them go, which resulted in a huge amount of individuals and groups, headed straight for the parking areas around the square. Most of them walked straight up Campbell street, and the trouble began.

    At first, it was just a few, seriously impaired (via drugs or alcohol) individuals in a small group, who approached the police, looking like they were trying to start a fight. More folks filtered in rather rapidly then, about 3/4 of which looked like they were under some pretty strong influence from some substance or another.

    These new folks were alternately throwing things at the police cars, sitting on the hoods of the police cars, and attempting to start fights with either the police or one-another, that it was really hard to keep track of everything at once. We saw men removing their shirts to throw at the officers, and females appearing to try to seduce groups of officers at once.

    Then the presiding officers called for more backup.

    At a whopping eleven police cars and a paddy wagon, they brought out the pepper spray, several dogs, and, from reports, either a canister gun for tear gas or a rifle with rubber bullets. (our informer couldn't tell which it was) A female officer was called onto the scene, and all of the officers on location were brandishing their night sticks, seemingly as much for their own protection as for the intimidation of the growing crowds, which surrounded them on all sides.

    The police were finally able to shoo nearly all of the crowds away and get people to move on to their proper destinations, but the whole shebang lasted over an hour, during which, we meeting attendees could not leave the coffee house with assurance that we would be safe, so we watched and took pictures from the upstairs windows.

    A pretty okay shot of the dogs after the crowd dispersed for the most part.

    These folks were told to move along, but they couldn't because the police cars had them trapped.

    And the paddy wagon arrived for extra backup.

    The police blocked off Campbell street for a while.

    Putting away the canister gun and pepper spray canisters.

    After it all calmed down, they were able to tow the perpetrator's car away to finish searching it.

    Side note: See the little heart made of light on the trash can in the foreground? A sure sign of brighter days to come!

    Pardon the quality of the photos, all I had was my mobile phone when this was going on.

    Update 10/1/09: I just learned that the police's version of events was on a news report not long after I posted my report here. Unfortunately, there were no first-hand accounts of what happened, so they were unable to get the full story. While my data is rather incomplete without their report, their report is glaringly false on several points.

    I have left the above post unedited to preserve the integrity of my blogging. What I learned from their report; The party was at Remington's, not ERA, as I had heard. There were fights inside the venue.

    Where their report was wrong or misleading; A man went to his car and pulled out a gun, hiding it in his waistband, which the police saw and arrested him. (No mention of a car chase, and I'm sure he hadn't parked facing southbound on Campbell avenue with police cars behind and in front of his vehicle). The fights spilled out onto the street. (We observed several hundred people walking peacably, if drunk, north up Campbell avenue, only breaking into fights when they neared or arrived at the intersection of Campbell & St. Louis, where the police were concentrated, and the mass of the crowds were gathered.)

    I have also learned from my daughter, who was there with me at my meeting, that she had counted 13 police cars from the safety of the upstairs window, not 11, while I was out gathering first-hand reports from others on the sidewalk after the crowds had cleared out.

    [Where: 65802]

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