Monday, May 06, 2002

Landlords angered by mini-riot damage


Police halt student street party

By Jennifer Edwards, jedwards@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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A Cincinnati police officer and rescue worker clear debris from Stratford Avevue between Warner and McMillan.
(Brandi Stafford photos)
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Dominic DeRose 19, an Ohio State student from Columbus, shows reporters where he was apparently shot by a police beanbag or rubber bullet.
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A shoeless man pleads with police to allow him on Stratford Avenue so he can go home. Police werenąt allowing anyone on Stratford who didnąt live there.
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People outside a house on Stratford yell at police as they walk past.
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Police tell a group they are not allowed on Stratford Avenue unless they live there.
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        Livid landlords flocked to their properties along a University Heights street Sunday after a student block party erupted into what police called a mini-riot early Sunday.

        The series of beer-soaked Cinco de Mayo bashes were held along the 2300 block of Stratford Avenue late Saturday until at least 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Cincinnati police said.

        About 500 people who torched furniture in the street, smashed car windows, fought and screamed were dispersed by dozens of police with chemical irritants and beanbag ammunition.

        Two 19-year-olds were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated.

        Cincinnati police plan to talk to University of Cincinnati officials and security staff this week to identify more students involved and possibly make more arrests, said Lt. Kurt Byrd, police spokesman.

        UC officials did not return phone messages Sunday.

        As more than 30 officers tried to break up the melee early Sunday, revelers hurled beer bottles at them. No officers were reported injured, but one man was taken to University Hospital after being hit in the chin with beanbag ammunition, police said.

        “It was a very antagonistic crowd using bad language, attempting to taunt the police,” said Lt. Byrd, who arrived at the scene about 12:30 a.m.

        “When you see what Columbus has experienced atOhio State University, it wasn't to that magnitude,” he said, referring to several weekend bashes there this year that turned violent and resulted in dozens of arrests. “We just hope it was a one-timefreak deal that does not repeat itself.”

        At the University of Akron Friday night, police arrested 48 people,including 25 students, on various charges during end-of-semester celebrations.

        There were few problems reported Friday night at other regional campuses.

        Several University Heights landlords said Sunday they planned to go door-to-door trying find out if their tenants were responsible for the out-of-control partying.

        Efforts have been under way to revitalize the area, one landlord said, and the melee was the last thing the neighborhood — heavily populated by UC students — needed.

        “I will evict anyone I find involved,” vowed Ray Richey, who owns several homes in the area. “We have to find who the culprits are and get them out of there.”

        A crew of eight road sanitation workers scrambled to clear shattered glass off Stratford Avenue by daylight. Because therewere many cars parked on the street, they had to sweep it by hand, which took about three hours.

        City workers planto close Stratford today and return with a street sweeper truck, saidDemetrius Stanpon, who heads the city's weekend sanitation crew.

        Neighbors who did not participate also were furious and called for landlords to adopt zero-tolerance policies.

        Though severalCincinnati officers said Sunday they already respond frequently to the neighborhood, residents said they want more patrols — especially late at night.

        Residents said parties go on into the wee hours every weekend — and sometimes weeknights — on Stratford and surrounding streets. Police two weeks ago were called twice in the same night to break up a party in the 2300 block of Stratford that featured a live band and about 100 students packed into one house, they said.

        “It wasn't different than any other Saturday night,” wryly noted Daniel Sachs, 31, a UC doctoral student. “There's parties all the time. Setting furniture on fire is not a new thing. I've seen it before. But last night was terrible. I was scared.”

        One group of partiers unsuccessfully tried to ignite a pool of alcohol that had streamed under a parked car. Another group lifted up a parked car and hurled it against another.

        Some chanted “Our street!” and “Rodney King!” at police, neighbors said.

        “It was insane. I kept chasing people off my lawn,” recalled Josh Brice, 26. “They kept coming in to go pee on my lawn. They didn't ask. I was like, no, go home!”

        After nearly an hour of repeatedly telling the partiers to go home or leave the area, a line of officers in riot gear marched down the street.

        “I was glad to see them,” Mr. Brice said of the officers. “They kept telling people, "Go home, go away or go inside or we're going to shoot you with rubber bullets.' One guy, they told him flat out, "Get inside or we're going to Mace you.' He didn't listen, so they Maced him.

        “I don't know how much the university can do,” he said. “This isn't on their property. Many of the landlords around here don't want the parties, so many times people get kicked out. I know if I ever had a keg on the property and my landlord saw it, I'd be out instantly.”

        A few students who were temporarily barred from leaving their homes at the height of the trouble thought police overreacted. Other residents were required to show police identification to be permitted onto the street.

        “The police wouldn't let me stand on my porch,” complained Scott Keller, 21, a junior and business major who tried to go to a nearby bar about 12:30 a.m. “We had to wait until the police said it was safe for us to leave. They definitely overreacted.

        Two students, Amanda Decker and Ryan Robert, both 19 and of the 2300 block of Stratford Avenue, were charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated.

        At least one landlord conceded he may have been too lenient on some of his tenants recently.

        Denny Rehn, who owns five homes along Stratford, said he recently issued a sharp warning to a group of girls living in one of his homes in the 2500 block of Stratford after they held a party there that police broke up.

        “I told them if it ever happened again, they would be gone. We have a very strict policy for that kind of thing,” Mr. Rehn said. “I shouldn't have given them that warning. I thought they were pretty good girls and didn't expect this.”

       Enquirer reporters Marie McCain and Kristina Goetz and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

       



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