'Deltopia' Spring Break Party Morphs Into Riot In Santa Barbara

Apr 6, 2014
Originally published on April 6, 2014 3:33 pm

Dozens of injuries were reported and more than 100 people were arrested in California Saturday, after people who had been attending a street party clashed with police. After the annual party near the University of California, Santa Barbara turned violent last night, hundreds of law enforcement officers were sent in to help.

"Before the trouble even started, law enforcement had arrested 56 people and issued 49 citations," according to local KABC TV news. "At least 44 people were taken to the hospital for injuries, including alcohol poisoning."

The station says events got out of hand after sheriff's deputies responded to a report of two stabbings sometime after 8 p.m. Two deputies wound up being injured, with one of them being hit in the head with a brick.

The unrest continued until past midnight. Video from the event shows a large crowd in the street full of people holding their phones up to film the scene.

From Santa Barbara, reporter Monica Lopez tells our Newscast unit that tear gas and rubber bullets were reportedly used to restore order:

"Fueled by social media, the party called Deltopia drew an estimated 15,000 revelers from throughout the state. But shortly after 9:00 p.m., the celebratory atmosphere took a sharp turn when a university police officer was struck in the head with a backpack containing large bottles of alcohol.

"The violence escalated and local police requested additional law enforcement personnel from two nearby counties.

"Third-year UCSB history major Mason, who did not want his last name used, describes what he saw.

"'They tore about five or six stop signs out of the ground and were holding them in air like weapons almost,' he says.

"Five more officers were injured during the disturbance. Students also described indiscriminate use of force by police.

"Due to injuries sustained during the riot, 26 people were transported to the hospital."

UC Santa Barbara freshman John Meza, 18, tells NPR member station KPCC that he saw "massive riots" that included people attacking a car that was up against a curb. And he says efforts to clamp down on the party this year, such as a strictly enforced noise ordinance, might have frustrated some who had come to the party.

"I feel like these out-of-towners came in expecting music and dancing in the street, and when they didn't get that, they started tearing out stop signs" and burning things, he tells KPCC.

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