Santa Barbara riots erupted near the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), resulting in one police officer suffering serious injury when wild spring breakers threw bottles, rocks, and bricks at two law enforcement personnel attempting to make an arrest.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said in a statement that police responding to the street party, called “Deltopia,” were attacked by rioters and one of the officers was hit in the head by a backpack full with bottles of alcohol on Saturday, at about 9:30 local time.
Brown said the backpack knocked the University officer down and his head was split open, requiring an extensive number of stitches.
The riot at the Santa Barbara party started when officers made an arrest after responding to a stabbing call at around 8 pm. Subsequently, partiers formed an illegal assembly and people started throwing rocks and bottles at police.
Additionally, rioters started fires, uprooted street signs, and vandalized police cars, according to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department.
The scuffle — which lasted several hours — resulted in the arrest of at least 100 people and injured several dozen.
Santa Barbara police says that the riots also caused injuries to several of the city’s police officers, with one being hit in the face by a brick.
“Before the trouble even started, law enforcement had arrested 56 people and issued 49 citations,” local KABC TV news reported. “At least 44 people were taken to the hospital for injuries, including alcohol poisoning.”
Santa Monica reporter Monica Lopez, via NPR, said that police were forced to use tear gas to disrupt the unruly riots:
“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.”
According to a first hand account, a UC Santa Barbara third-year student said the rioters “tore about five or six stop signs out of the ground and were holding them in air like weapons almost.”
Lopez reported that five police officers were injured in the riots, however, UC Santa Barbara students reported “indiscriminate use of force by police,” who were forced to use tear gas to disburse the unruly crowd.
Freshman John Meza told NPR that out-of-towners may have been frustrated by police efforts to enforce noise ordinance, as they probably expected “music and dancing in the streets,” among other things.
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