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City officials breath a sigh of relief following Mifflin Street Block Party

City officials breath a sigh of relief following Mifflin Street Block Party

Incident Type

Information

Incident Date

05/04/2013 - 12:00 PM

Address

Mifflin St.

Update

Staff members of the MPD's records department indicate six people were given seven citations during the Mifflin St. event Saturday.

Here is the breakdown:

- 3 citations for Depositing Human Waste

- 2 citations for having an Open Intoxicant

- 1 citation for Casual Possession of THC (marijuana)

- 1 citation for violating a Glass-Free Zone

The MPD would like salute all who celebrated responsibly, and thank those who worked with officers to ensure a safe event took place this year.

Last updated 05/07/2013 at 9:49 AM by PIO Joel DeSpain

Details

There were no significant incidents this afternoon on Mifflin St. and crowd numbers were down dramatically from past years. The MPD worked hard to educate people, prior to the event, about the department's concerns and expectations. The hope was for voluntary compliance. By and large that hope was realized as the vast majority of attendees obeyed laws and ordinances. There were considerably fewer citations issued. The exact number will not be determined until next week, but it is safe to say the number will be down several hundred from last year when 545 citations were issued. As the afternoon played out, many law enforcement personnel were sent home. The MPD would like to thank the Dane County Sheriff's Department for assisting with the event.

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5/6

Final arrest figures for the weekend's "Mifflin Street Block Party" are still being tabulated, but they’re expected to be well below last year’s total of more than 500 citations.

In fact it was quiet enough Saturday night that police were able to send officers home early.

Needless to say...city officials are breathing a sigh of relief for the way things went on May 4th.  Mayor Soglin spent some time there Saturday, "There's no question that this was a significant improvement after the prior couple of years.  It's a result of a combination of factors, not the least of which was that it rained most of the morning, but the efforts that both we made and student leaders made to emphasize the need for safety and being careful about the over consumption of alcohol.  That made a big difference."

A police crackdown also paid off, "Plus there was a feel that was different.  Seems to me that it was predominately students and some of the work that we did clearly discouraged a lot of folks who normally come into the party and have little regard to safety."

He adds, "Well there was a few folks who drank too much but the vast majority were light hearted and it was more of a picnic feel for the afternoon."  Overall, he's hoping this sets a precedent for future Mifflin parties, "That we can continue to scale down the costly and dangerous activity.  Maybe it can turn into a picnic day, where it's friends getting together and being cautious in terms of dangerous behavior."

Downtown Alderman Mike Verveer was keeping an eye on things Saturday, "I was very pleasantly surprised and really shattered all my hopes and expectations for the event.  I was really expecting much larger crowds for this year."

But really it turned out to be a collection of porch parties, "In fact you might want to call it the Mifflin Street Porch Party as opposed to the block party as the street remained opened at all times to traffic.  By all accounts, things went very, very well."  He says the command post for police shut down the earliest he can ever remember from years past.

Student Ali Heller hosted one of the house parties, but was a little apprehensive at first, "We were really worried beforehand.  We kind of waited it out for a while.  One lady told us to turn down our music but beyond that we really haven't had a problem."

Heller and her other guests were sporting T-shirts with a picture of the Grinch that read, "How the police stole Mifflin."  She says, "Mifflin is a school tradition and I think that should be carried on.  We're not trying to wreak havoc or like close down the city or like have riots.  I just think it's a day where our whole school comes together and just has an awesome time."

She did admit though... that the police were really cool and wanted to buy their shirts.

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4/12

Madison Police say they're gearing up for May 4th, the day the annual Mifflin Street Block Party takes place.

But, Lt. Dave McCaw tells WIBA News, it will not be a sanctioned event, "We're not calling off anything. In the past we've responded to people/organizers who ask for a permit for street use that day and have an organized event. Like last year, nobody has come forward asking for that, so, there is no event. We just don't know what that means. We have 40 years of history to deal with... but last year wasn't a sanctioned event either. We spent a lot of effort with the officers that were there to keep Mifflin Street open, because there was no permit, and that was done."

In a letter from Officer Grant Humerickhouse (posted below), a Langdon Neighborhood Officer, he states the toll of the Mifflin Street Block Party far outweighs any benefit to our community.

He's also encouraging any residents considering to host a party in the downtown area on or around May 4th, should reconsider. Lt. McCaw adds that's the message year round anyway... in regards to illegal house parties, "If you are large and loud...you're going to attract us and you can look for citation."

McCaw suggests people look for other things to do the day of May 4th, "this event is gone and if someone wants to work the city on having an event for students in the city, we would be more than welcome to doing it but we will insist that it's at a location that is safe for all people."

Sanctions will be coming from the UW Dean of Students for anyone arrested or cited.

"Due to the widespread public safety issues associated with past Mifflin Street Block Parties, an annual student event that has traditionally occurred on the first Saturday in May, There will be no Mifflin Street Block Party on or around Saturday, May 4th in 2013. The Mifflin Street Block Party will no longer be a City permitted or sanctioned event. The City of Madison, UW Madison, area landlords and downtown residents, have all determined that the toll of the Mifflin Street Block Party far outweighs any benefit to our community. The house parties on Mifflin Street, with the rampant over-consumption of alcohol and the attendant safety issues will no longer be tolerated by the City of Madison."

Read the full letter here: View Document

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5/9/12

City officials meet today to continue their examination of what happened during the 43rd annual Mifflin Street Block Party last weekend, and what to do in the future.

Downtown Alderwoman Bridget Maniaci says it would be difficult to prevent students from partying the first Saturday in May, "It's all on private property so it could very easily move to another neighborhood to other people's houses; does it have to be on Mifflin Street, probably not but, you're going probably going to see this more if there's a hard shut down on Mifflin Street than I would anticipate it just moves to a different neighborhood and I don't know what that solves really."

There were more than 500 arrests at last Saturday’s Mifflin Street bash, but not the violence that marred the event a year ago.

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5/7/12

A milder Mifflin Street Block Party, but there were plenty of arrests.

Nearly 400 were picked up and cited for things like underage drinking, open intoxicants, glass containers and depositing human waste.

It's estimated that 5,000 people attended as opposed to the roughly 25,000 last year. Some Mifflin attendees were disappointed, “It's comradery. By pushing the students back as opposed to out in the streets, we're losing out on comradery. This is was the student experience is all about."

There were a few partiers that were hip to the new rules.

Among those arrested, Badger Running Back Montee Ball. It wasn't so much bad behavior or alcohol that led to his citation. He was on the porch of a home and a resident didn't want him there, so Ball was cited for trespassing. Police say he was cooperative.

Overall, Police Chief Noble Wray was pleased with the outcome, "Seems like the level of intoxication is lower than last year, and the conduct and behavior has seemed to have improved."

Mayor Soglin says there are 'mixed results,' "Well, depends on what you measure. If you measure it in terms of arrests, it was worse than last year. If you measure it in terms of violence, it was better than last year." So, can the party be shut down in the future? "I'm not going to speculate on that until we have a briefing. I was down there for about an hour and saw too many arrests." Soglin, who says he’s “disappointed” in the number of people who broke the law, is in Washington today and will be briefed when he returns to Madison.

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4/25/12

A message on YouTube from UW-Madison's Dean of Students, Lori Berquam, is no longer on the University's website.

UW officials say it was removed in response to feedback.

Campus papers say that feedback was mostly critical of her message to not attend the Mifflin streetblock party.

Listen to her message here.

See her message here.

FROM NBC 15:

Thousands flock to Mifflin for the block party every year.

This year's block party is set to take place on May 5th.

Lately, they've had some big problems--including stabbings and sexual assaults.

That's why Dean of Students Lori Berquam decided to ask students to skip the event--and she's now facing student pushback for that plea.

Only yesterday she posted a video, saying to students: "don't go," to the annual block party. "I thought it was kind of ridiculous just how her message was not, you know.......be smart about it because you're adult," said U-W Student Meaghan Sass. "It's 'don't go'. It felt very, very condescending and very patronizing."

"I heard about it on Facebook," said Dylan Talerico, another U-W student. "A lot of people started sharing the link."

It's drawn plenty of student attention--and spawned a few parodies too. "It certainly got people talking, didn't it? Can't deny that now," joked Berquam. "I've got remixes going on, I think I'm actually going to be world famous soon."

The response prompted the University to pull the video down this morning. "The platform was really for it to be educational and to inform our students," said Berquam. "And so once it kind of reached beyond that point and it wasn't educational any longer, I think it sort of is not worth it."

Berquam said her message was really about keeping students safe, though some of the students we spoke with say they think it'll actually attract some to come. "I think more people are going to go now just to kind of spite her for this blatant lack of faith she has in her students," said Sass. "Like even I'm like 'hey I'm free next weekend maybe I'll poke my head down there and go'."

Berquam disagrees: "Whether or not the video itself would have stopped people from going from Mifflin could be a discussion," she said. "I'm certainly not going to at all buy into it's going to invite people to go to Mifflin."

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8/26/11

Is the end near for the Mifflin Street Block Party?

A report from Madison Police cites violence and coast as reasons why it can't continue.

Officer Howard Payne says, "The thing that was very alarming, there were a number of stabbings, there were a number of sexual assault cases that came out over that event, there were a number of robberies that resulted in the event as well."

Mayor Paul Soglin has also said he wants the party to come to an end after 42 years.

It started at a protest to the Vietnam War.

Listen to our interview with Officer Payne here.

 

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