Massive crowds in Berkeley on Halloween draw police response

Timothy Dawson/Staff

Police responded to various incidents related to massive gatherings in the city Saturday night as thousands of partygoers converged on Southside to celebrate Halloween and the football game earlier that day.

The crowd swelled to between 3,000 and 5,000 people at its peak. Police made three arrests in connection with at least one reported assault and responded to various calls related to the gathering, according to Lt. Andrew Rateaver, watch commander for Berkeley Police Department.

People began congregating in the area around Channing Way and Piedmont Avenue about midnight and moved toward the Telegraph commercial district as the night went on. Police confirmed one case of property damage on Channing Way — a car with a smashed windshield — although Rateaver said it is still unclear when the damage occurred. There were also reports of glass bottles being thrown in the streets and objects being thrown at police cars.

“There were a lot of people, and some of those people chose to act unlawfully,” Rateaver said. “Overall, that was a small portion of the people, and certainly not the entire group.”

Karina Redding, a campus junior and member of the Greek system, said she spent about an hour sitting near Channing Circle with a friend, watching the crowd.

“It was very uncontrolled, and it felt unsafe at points,” Redding said. “It also felt like all people who I normally see — all of the people who normally go out, all of my friends — were gone. It seemed like a lot of outsiders were coming into Berkeley, and they were the only ones there.”

She added that she believes what happened Saturday was entirely out of the Greek system’s control. She noted that by the time she went out — about 11 p.m. — many parties had been shut down or had stopped letting people in, which resulted in people gathering outside.

The department issued no unlawful gathering declarations, Rateaver said. UCPD and Berkeley Fire Department also responded to incidents related to the gathering.

Although some students and residents alleged on social media that police were using tear gas on the crowd, no tear gas or other similar crowd-control methods were used.

Rateaver said 33 BPD officers responded to incidents related to the crowds, which, he said, is “an awful lot of officers to devote to one thing” in a time of constrained resources for the department.

Police responded to calls about injuries and reports that people in the crowd had weapons, but officers found no evidence to support these claims.

“This particular gathering was a big drain,” Rateaver said. “It was actually a big danger to the city of Berkeley and for people with unpreventable emergencies.”

Michelle Pitcher is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MichellePitcher.

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  • s randall

    The rioting was caused by outsiders? If that’s true, what does that mean? Does it mean that Berkeley has a reputation that draws people looking for that sort of thing, or are people just making up excuses? Either way, it’s time to do something boys and girls.

  • still trying

    DailyCal forgot to report on this. Why? Shouldn’t the students know before a week passes.

  • ucsbgirl

    We feel your pain, and warn you that this is a slippery slope to head down -UCSB students of IV

    • still trying


  • still trying
    • Gene Nelson

      Yes go to that site. see how stilltrying has no life. 40 posts today about cal students.

      • still trying

        Gene, So you went to another location to post your dribble. Why Gene? It appears everyone laughed at you on the other site. At your age Gene, you should get a hobby I did. And it has done wonders. I am learning HTML and electronic data collection remotely. You should get a hobby Gene, it will keep your senility from getting worse.

        • dmp

          It’s drivel, not dribble.

          • still trying

            When your old and senile, it’s dribble. I guess you did not get the humor.

        • Gene Nelson

          Oh did i hurt your feelings by pointing out the huge number of posts and your obsessiveness with cal parties? It’s pathetic that you actually try to prove you have a life – it means you are so insecure that my accusations got to you. Bahahahahaha. I love owning you.

          • still trying

            No Gene, you did not hurt my feelings. You just proved my point about you not having a life. Like someone else who stated elsewhere, it is you Gene who is stalking “still trying”. And your outlandish and baseless comments further prove my point. Good night Gene. Someday you may actually do something important. But probably not. You just like to whine.

          • awwyiss

            I wonder how it feels to dedicate so much time to obsessing over college students having fun. It’s actually pretty sad when you think about it.

          • still trying

            Not really, what is sad is white privileged kids that feel they are above the law.

  • awwyiss

    Meanwhile, actual cal students were studying and recovering from the game. There were no frat parties last night. The vast majority of these people were not cal students, and were trolling for parties that didn’t exist. Thanks you BPD for getting these dangerous people out of our neighborhood.

    • still trying

      Again, look at pictures and videos. They do not support your hypothesis.

      • awwyiss

        what are you trying to say?

        • still trying

          What I was saying is, Your comments do not hold water. Or more simply, your comment is BS.

    • still trying

      So there is no correlation between the Police and Fire closing down frat parties on Channing and Piedmont and Officers requesting help due to the thousands of kids exiting these frat parties prior to the property damage and riot. Someone lives in a fantasy world I’m afraid. I can see how you got into Cal, ignore reality.