Police break up crowd
Disburbance at downtown beer garden leads to 20 arrestsPosted: Sunday February 24, 2002 8:29 AM
Updated: Sunday February 24, 2002 2:42 PM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Police in riot gear used foam-tipped bullets to scatter an unruly crowd outside a downtown beer garden early Sunday on the last weekend of the Winter Games. Twenty people were arrested but no major injuries were reported.
The clash began when Bud World, set up for Olympic festivities, got too crowded and people spilled onto Main Street, just blocks from the medals plaza and main media center.
"The people who were standing on line got unhappy," said Scott Folsom, Salt Lake City assistant police chief.
Folsom said some of the people threw beer cans and bottles when 75 to 100 helmeted officers were brought in to try to clear the crowd out and close off the intersection. He said he knew of no injuries and only one broken window.
Rob Garcia, 18, of Salt Lake City said the crowd was yelling at police, and officers forced people against cars.
"The police were pushing people," he said. "The cops just jumped across and set up a barricade."
By 2 a.m., the crowd had been mostly dispersed, said Police Detective Dwayne Baird. In all, 20 people were arrested, he said. He said he expected them to be charged with misdemeanors such as failure to disperse and public intoxication.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson credited the police with showing restraint.
"There were some bottles thrown at police officers and they responded accordingly," Anderson said. "It's just amazing that this is all that has happened with these crowds we've had every night."
Normally, drunken revelers wouldn't be roaming through the streets of Salt Lake City. The state's strict Mormon heritage usually makes for quiet nights. But during the games, things have been considerably more active.
Security officials have said they feel fortunate there have been no major disruptions or threats against the games.
About $310 million has been devoted to Olympic security, and nearly 15,000 security workers are at the games. The disturbance Sunday was handled by local police, according to a spokesman for the Olympic Joint Information Center.