GALVESTON, Texas – Several arrests were made after a crowd became violent and refused to disperse early Sunday after the evening’s Mardi Gras celebration in Galveston, police said.
“There’s always going to be a couple idiots when there’s 10,000 plus people out here drinking,” said Ryan Conner.
According to the Galveston Police Department, it all started just after 12:30 a.m. as officers from GPD and UTMB Police Department began their sweep of the event area close the Mardi Gras celebration.
The police officers lined up across the roadway and the sidewalks and began at 20th Street and began moving west in unison down the Strand toward 25th street in an effort to turn pedestrians towards the exits.
A few minutes later, police encountered a large group near 22th Street and Strand that had taken fencing used to safeguard the public from parade floats and barricaded the street, police said. A group of officers went and attempted to move the fencing.
“Whistles were blowing, beads were flying, bottles were flying,” said vendor Michelle Demarchi. “It was crazy.”
When the crowd saw the police removing the fence, they began to throw bottles at the officers, police said. The police got back in line with the rest of the officers, but were not able to advance towards the crowd.
“That response to resistance is a game changer,” said GPD Chief Henry Porretto.
Police said the officers then deployed an oleoresin capsicum canister, but the crowd still did not move. Another canister was used and the crowd began to disperse. Police were then able to clear the fencing.
“We’re not going to allow some people from other cities to come here throw bottles and attack our officers,” Porretto said.
Police said a confirmed gang member was arrested after he was observed to be a main agitator of the disturbance. A total of 19 arrests were made during the sweep or immediately thereafter.
No serious injuries were reported and no private property was damaged in this incident, police said.
“Officers used practiced and authorized techniques to disperse the crowd and clear the barricaded street,” Porretto said. “We will continue to evaluate and train our personnel to handle such incidents.”
Those arrested face public intoxication and disorderly conduct charges. The police chief says certain individuals could face more serious charges for inciting that crowd.