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FIRST ON 3: Wilmington Police use pepper spray to break up Downtown Halloween crowd Saturday

READ MORE: FIRST ON 3: Wilmington Police use pepper spray to break up Downtown Halloween crowd Saturday

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Halloween is a time to dress up with your friends and snap some pictures of creative costumes, but after this year's Halloween in downtown Wilmington, some people are reliving their weekend from a YouTube video.

A number of videos are floating around YouTube of what Wilmington Police officers say was a rowdy crowd late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. In the videos you can see a large crowd of people hanging outside the bars right after closing time. The crowd is chanting, "U-S-A!"

Lt. Ed Pigford says police officers tried to tell people to start moving out of the area, but were unsuccessful. Pigford says the crowd of people jumping up and down had the potential to be violent.

After numerous attempts, officers released pepper spray into the air, not at any people, but to get people moving.

"We're trying to avoid a mob mentality, and we're trying to avoid injury by trying to split these crowds up as quickly as we can," Pigford said. "If you allow these crowds to form, we've all seen video of college-type crowds. We've all seen YouTube videos of them turning vehicles over, breaking windows and tearing down signs."

Pigford says about 8,000 people were on Front Street Saturday night. He also says only one woman sought treatment from the pepper spray.

Pigford says that use of pepper spray or any physical means of getting people under control is a last resort, but when there are a lot of people who are heavily intoxicated, it's hard to get people to obey what they say.

To watch the videos, click here:

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Has anyone considered filing

Has anyone considered filing suit against WPD? Sounds like quite a few people had their personal liberties violated by careless poorly trained police officers. So many lawyers downtown, and tons of YouTube evidence - surprised a multitude of charges haven't been filed yet.

I am not gonna pick a side

I am not gonna pick a side on this situation beacuse i was not there. However, I have a problem with about half of the posts listed calling the adults involved, kids. These are not kids. They are not going to go home and play with a train and get tucked in by their parents. Calling them kids is a trick to make them seem even more innocent and make the cops appear even more demonic. Kids, are not able to legally drink, but to these 'kids' credit, they are very capable of whining with the best 5 year old out there.

Commie Cops

Nothing more patriotic than sending pepper spray into an unarmed crowd chanting "USA USA USA" while actually inside the borders of the United States of America...where free speech and right to assembly are both guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Amazing how they created a convenient spot for everyone to gather outside the bars by blocking off the ENTIRE street. Logically when the bars close, the cabs became scarce leaving nothing for anybody to do but continue the good times in the street.

Makes you wonder if they chanted anything else if the WPD would have just open fire on the crowd?

1st amendment

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

PEACEFULLY assemble, not act like a bunch of drunk jerks. Oh wait, they were a bunch of drunk jerks. I doubt they were expressing a grievance against the government so your point is moot.

"Wilmington Riot Rabbit" video

I just watched this video on youtube called Wilmington Riot Rabbit. Shows the "rabbit" who started dancing and started the people dancing around him and chanting USA. No one was being violent. Also, there were sirens from the cars, but you can't hear any police loud speakers until around 30 seconds to a minute AFTER the pepper spray was shot into the crowd!! There was no warning at all! Everyone was just having a good time on Halloween. If WPD had just walked up and actually used their bullhorns to tell everyone it's time to leave none of this would have happened. Completely rediculous.

unbeleivable patrolman trampled kid ..cops laughed

there was a guy that got stomped on by a horse officer an left laying there hurt during this ..REALLY it is amazing that there isnt anyone there to police the police yes i said it someone needs to contact a federal agency to look into the actions taken by WPD not only on this past Sat night but over the past year or so things have really gotten out of hand since arriving in this town i have heard so many things about WPD that staying here is really sorta not looking like a good thing to do uncalled for use of force arresting a woman for aiding a man who got sprayed with pepper gas ive heard of college girls getting pulled over late night and asked for " FAVORS " to keep them out of tickets the entire amount of what has been told to me disgusts me ..Sat night people waiting on a pizza also got sprayed WHY?? they were doing nothing wrong several people with breathing problems were sent into a dizzing coughing and hacking induced frenzy by the pepper spray some older people who were here on vacation and enjoying the nightlife this city has to offer were walking back to their car passing by the patriotic chants of USA USA USA they also just so happened to be right beside the officers when they shot pepperspray into the crowd and said there was no warning just 1 cop said to another to hold his breath this is gonna be fun ..THIS IS GONNA BE FUN??? ....luckily his wife had her inhaler or she could have possibly needed rushed to the ER and they ask why the police felt the need to spray a group of citezens and soldiers who mind you have been fighting for our rights for chanting in support of our country USA USA USA ...they didnt spray the crowds in the street for chanting YES WE CAN & CHANGE IS NOW OR OBAMA during the large crowds of people out the night he was elected to office ..and like said within these posts what if it had been azaelea fest or riverfest or any other of the public events this city is known for things could have been really bad ...i have heard they arrested a guy because he tried to pet a police horse and called it assault dont know if its true but its out there and the videos there were 20 some odd vids but only 4 are seen here most were taked from celluar phones some like the longest one which has the clearest images show the crowd was not hundreds it was more or less 50 to 75 people as shown the majority seem to be walking past or watching even a few officers just about 1 min before the spray induced panic several innocent bystanders or so called collateral damage were caught up in this mess WPD should be ashamed of what happened and i agree with the post about paying some overtime to have a proper amount of officers on duty instead of buying pretty new toys or wastefull large patrol trucks it all could have been handled better simply put as for me im looking into moving to a city that doesnt use such force against harmless people for their own amusment and as for my friends who were in town for a weekend getaway they are seeking legal counsel and will be filing charges against WPD and the city of Wilmington as will several others who were there ....thank you to the soldiers who fight for my rights for my freedoms without you the world would be a much scarier and darker place and as a citizen i apologize to you servicemen and women who were so wrongfully assulted by a police force gone rouge ....USA USA USA USA


Sounds like a lot of hearsay.

WPD needs to admit mistake

Let me make this abundantly clear: I have an immense respect for law and order, and those who are charged with protecting the public. I shed no tears when police tear-gas and bludgeon truly violent punks who wield Molotov cocktails, smash storefront windows, and turn over cars. With this being said, what transpired here on Halloween was unacceptable. Pepper-spraying crowds without warning was a poor decision. Rather than defending themselves, the WPD needs to step up, admit they made a mistake, and guess what? Most good-willed people will accept the apology and move on. Furthermore, the fact that individuals who weren't even part of the crowd were sprayed is very indiscriminate.


Yeah, if they don't do a better job, I say let's not give them a raise (for the forth year in a row). They obviously don't deserve it. You get what you pay for.

Wow. This is our future?

See those big white things? They're called Police Cars. Hear that loud noise they're making? That's called a siren. Those flashing lights? Yeah, those are to get your attention, too.
What do all these things mean? It's time to GO HOME.
Your being ignorant, stupid, drubnk or obnoxious does not mean the Police are evil. They were trying to disperse a crowd.
They may or may not have used loud speakers. Shouldn't matter. At that time of night the people in the streets should have been heading home. They weren't and were showing no signs of leaving any time soon.
The police made the decision to use chemical assistance to disperse the crowd. Shouldn't be mmuch complaining since chemical assistance (alcohol) was used to form the crowd.
Bottom line, the crowd cleared, nobody died. The plan worked. I suspect a bunch of rowdy kids are pissed cause someone wouldn't let them do anything they wanted to do.


I was out of town this weekend in Asheville which is about the size of Wilm., when the bars let out there had to be dozens of times more people in the streets than this appears to be. And the police were able to watch over them. Kind of protecting and serving the public as I would call it. I do not see anything unruly about this crowd in this video at all. Man, I hate it when my hometown embarrasses me like this

If you cops in Wilmington

If you cops in Wilmington and Carolina Beach, NC continue on the path you are on, then the other 99 counties and 49 states are going to come slap your police forces back into submission. Remember the 2nd Amendment?

PROTECT AND SERVE, do not attempt to CAUSE a riot and then laugh about it in a local restaurant.

You are not in Iraq anymore but we would be happy to ship some of you back there. The American people did not hire you morons to beat on or assault with pepper spray our woman and children in the streets while they chant USA USA USA.

Every one of the people in that street is someones Mother Father Son Daughter Brother or Sister.

1 million sworn police officers in the Country "CAN NOT" oppress 320,000,000 UNITED STATES CITIZENS for much longer and I am at a lose as to why your county thinks it can.

Be very careful what you wish for NHC Law Enforcement, you may just get it. The rest of us in the US are already looking at your county as a problem child.

Now go vote!

De Oppresso Libre

35,000 in Chapel Hill

A crowd -estimated at over 35,000- walked the streets of Chapel Hill for seven hours Sunday night, with a minimal police presence and no reports of violence. College students, citizens and visitors to the community, yet no pepper spray or over-reacting law enforcement actions. I wonder how Wilmington city officials would feel if the downtown bar and restaurant scene "dried up" as these altercations between the public and police continue to escalate. I've watched over a half dozen videos from the incident - I've not seen or heard a police officer ask the crowd to disperse in any of the videos. I've spoken to college students, business owners and friends who were on Front Street when the incident occurred....they all warning was issued to the revelers. Was the crowd getting out of hand? I wasn't there, so I won't cast judgement....but there was surely a better way to deal with this group.

Both Side Were Wrong

To the WPD: You guys should have gave a warning first with a speaker.
To the crowd: You people should know better than to crowd the streets after a bar closes. We're not in New Orleans. When bars close, go the f'ck home!

just as an fyi...there were

just as an fyi...there were several warnings given with speakers

One in one hand and onlyone inthe other

First off I say be glad all where not taken and booked for PI and there is the fact that this was not a street Halloween Party so everyone there except the police had just left local Bars...In Dallas Tx everyone would have been booked and charged with questions asked and without warning...just rounded up and that be that...I think it would have been a bad thing if they did that as I love Halloween and good spirit, I am just saying be glad that never took place...But on the other hand I totally agree that the spraying of pepper spray was totally out of line without the use of a speaker that we all know every police car has...that is not the proper way to handle a peaceful crowd and several officers should be questioned about their choices in this matter:and be made to attend proper training on how to deal with a PEACEFUL CROWD..I am totally sure most of the people would have left if the officers said Heck Yes we love the US TOO...but we want you to do this in your own home and not downtown tonight...being calm is better than going crazy on someone which is what the officers choose to do...BAD CHOICE WILMINGTON PD


ummmm...hate to bust your bubble, but there's no Public Intoxication law in NC. Good try though

Hate to bust YOUR bubble -

Hate to bust YOUR bubble - public intoxication isn't, but being drunk and disruptive is a crime in North Carolina.
NC General Statutes, Article 59, 14-443 thru 14-447
Look it up.


Just to clarify, the public intoxication that was referred to is called drunk and dispruptive in NC. NC General Statute 14-444. Being drunk, interfering with traffic flow, blocking sidewalks, grabbing, pushing of fighting with others, cursing, shouting or otherwise rudely insulting(that's my favorite) or begging for money or other property.

the whole thing is crazy

get a lawyer and file charges against WPD were you injured then they are responsible for personal damages and or counseling for you ....this is quickly becoming a big subject in several areas ..someone asked a great question ...what if this had happened at any other downtown event the azalea festival for instance if the police opened up on that crowd with pepper spray there would have been deaths ..why you ask because several of the people in attendence would be elderly and the spray may very well cause severe if not fatal conditions to them what if lets just say an elderly group would have been out dont give that its to late for old people crap elderly people do come out late sometimes...this whole deal would have been awfully worse ...using he spray could have very well put Wilmington on the map for all the wrong reasons and the way this story is getting attention it may very well do just that the police should have had more officers out they knew the crowds would be large but they had a minimum force working that night maybe instead of buying brand new patrol cars IE: camaro's aint cheep kids nor gas guzzling SUV's an jus pay the overtime to the extra officers an have plenty on sight when they know there is gonna be a large crowd ...i mean it was almost ridiculous the amount of officers present for the azealea festival its a huge deal people travel from all over for ....bottom line this was handled poorly and some people will end up sueing the police force and possible even the city for what happened

you're right

A 50ish year old woman was sent to the hospital for respiratory issues (she was just walking through the crowd) a girl with asthma was caughing up blood, multiple people went to the ER from this episode. I have very bad allergies and asthma I'm so glad I wasn't there because it could have been catastrophic to my health and I'm only 21. BAD MOVE WPD

Personal damages and COUNSELING?

Let me modify my previous statement:

MEGA-Pansy Nation! There's an even more accurate five-letter word that starts with "P" and ends with "Y," but I don't wish to taunt the censors.

It was pepper spray, girls, sprayed into the air - not ON anyone.

Counseling! Good God almighty! Grow a pair!

Das, MAJ....this is what happens when they stop watching John Wayne and start watching Teletubbies. If you say "boo" at them they need counseling.


They will all have PTSD next. What was that 50 year old woman doing downtown at 2 a.m., picking up her kids ? Geez and the other guy that said he was 31? Hes "that old guy" that the young girls laugh at behind his back.

$}{it happens folks, you just hope you ain't in the line of pepper spray when it does.


Why is it that everytime something happens the first instinct to so sue somebody??? People need to stop being money hungry and deal with the fact that they were TOLD to leave the area and they didn't. As for the Azalea Festival and Elderly people comment, I don't think any Elderly people were out at 2:15 in the morning downtown after halloween. Those with common sense would have left when the police told them to. This was not something that all happened with in 2 minutes, it was after a period of time that this was used. It was not lethal and was not something that would harm people who were abiding by the law and leaving when told to


I agree with you that those injured should sue the City of Wilmington and WPD. This is a prime example of the lack of training by the WPD. They are always ready to see everyone as a criminal and exaggerate the behavior of innocent citizens when they are in the wrong. It is a shame that LEOs in this town have not concept of being civil.

Every person who was injured needs to call a lawyer and start the process of suing those responsible. This needs to happen not just now but every single time things like this happen. If the City of Wilmington and WPD have to start paying big bucks for these foul ups they will soon get their mess together.

overheard officers bragging about this

it is clear in the video that there is no violent acts taking place and that 2 WPD officers walked casually by the camera shortly before the pepper spray they seemed to be laughing in the video an just watching that things didnt get out of hand ...BUT THE THING THAT HAS NOW SET ME OFF ABOUT THIS IS WHAT I OVERHEARD FROM SOME OFFICERS WHILE THEY LAUGHED IT UP DURING A MASS DINNER BREAK AT A LOCAL ESTABLISHMENT ...THINGS BEING SAID ABOUT HOW FUN IT WAS TO SPRAY THOSE KIDS HOW HILARIOUS IT WAS TO MAKE EM RUN LIKE ANIMALS ...REALLY WPD YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED TO HAVE OFFICERS WITH THIS MENTALITY ON YOUR FORCE ...understand this had someone been injured due to the release of a toxic spray ( pepper spray is considered a toxic airborne assult tool by definition in the PATRIOT ACT LAWS the city can and will be held liable for injuries incured during this event ...I ADVISE THAT ANYONE WHO WAS INVOLVED SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL AND FILE CHARGES AGAINST WPD ...if you were caused to fall hurt yourself in any manner while attempting to flee the scene you do have a case against this city ..and as for the wpd officers bragging about their actions you should relize i was eating with a lawyer and a judge from another NC city who were completly appauled by the manner in which you spoke about the civilians you are suppose to protect ...i have seen what a dirty police force can do to a town ive been thru that in my hometown here in NC and those officers are currently serving time for their crimes really makes me think this is not the beautiful city that they try to make it out to be with a police force willing to laugh about assulting people in the streets ...i truly beleive that people who were assulted need to file charges against WPD for their actions...and just to be sure its said ..NOT ALL OFFICERS ARE BAD BUT LIKE ANYGROUP OUT THERE IT ONLY TAKES A FEW DOING THE WRONG THING TO TARNISH THE IMAGE OF AN ENTIRE GROUP IM SURE WPD HAS SOME FINE OUTSTANDING MEN AND WOMEN ON THEIR FORCE BUT THERE ARE A FEW ROTTEN APPLES IN THE BARREL THAT NEED THROWN OUT ....and due to what happened last time i commented on a subject like this my name is kept private because i have experienced retaliation by a police force before sad as it is to say that ..its AMERICA YOU HAVE RIGHTS ..USE THEM



According to your logic, the same argument could be made about the rowdy crowd that, contrary to popular belief, was heavily intoxicated and highly volatile. True, not everyone in the crowd was “rotten” but certainly the inaction of those untarnished “apples” in the crowd against those who were causing problems, lends itself to some personal responsibility.

Why would one remain in the presence of a “rotten apple?” We may never know. However, a two minute video from the perspective of one person does not in any way do justice to the true events of the evening. Let’s get real.

I agree...

...that the cops were RIGHT and acted appropriately.

FACT: It was QUICKLY escalating into something destined to be uncontrollable. Disagree? Look at the 4th clip listed above. It's the very definition of visual AND audio chaos. You can't make out what's in front of your eyes! You can't hear anything but the deafening roar of the mob. You wouldn't have been able to hear gunshots, much less a verbal warning to disperse.

FACT: Crowds have a tendency to develop a pack-like quality that can and DOES turn violent, especially over something people are passionate about. Don't believe me? Google soccer riots if your memory fails you on how many people have been trampled, and that's just passion over a sport, not a nation.

FACT: We can agree they all went down there that night to go to the bars. The bars close at 0200 hrs. Why hang around outside after that? Consider: Strangers who appear very intoxicated are discovered dancing and shouting in your front yard at a ridiculous time of the morning. Can you honestly say it wouldn't bother you? And if it WOULD bother you, ask yourself why. It's because it's NOT right and would therefore be perceived as a threat to your well-being.

FACT: Bar close downtown is usually wrapping up no later than 0300 hrs. This past weekend, it was just as busy at 0500 hrs. as it was at 0230 hrs. It WAS out of the ordinary. It NEEDED to be addressed.

FACT: One person was arrested for assaulting a law enforcement animal. AGAIN. Folks, there's just NO justification for that assault. Also, a police officer was assaulted. That kind of behavior simply CANNOT be tolerated. If someone is willing to assault those who are supposed to protect us, what does that say about what they would do to the rest of us? If they have no qualms about assaulting a cop, they will not hesitate to assault anyone else.

FACT: Only one person sought treatment by EMS as a result of the spray. ONE. There were eight thousand on hand. 8,000.

BOTTOM LINE: At 0200 hrs., they should have all been making their way home, not congregating IN THE STREETS IN THE WEE HOURS. Bars were closed. Shops were closed. GO HOME. We have this problem EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND. It does NOT get better. It's ridiculous, it's stupid, and all drunkards and partiers who can't see that really have no business being on public streets. Being young does NOT give you carte blanche to be irresponsible and idiotic.

Thank You

Apparently you are one of the few that has any sense at all when it comes to dealing with this type of issue. The problem is that most of these individuals replying to this post have no idea what it is like to deal with 1000's of people at one time with many or most of them intoxicated. Too many people are quick to judge without having any knowledge of what it is like to deal with these issues. I live in a larger city than Wilmington and deal with this on a weekly basis. Congrats to WPD for dealing with this issue.

Get Your Facts Straight?

The crowd was around 50-75 people. The entire bar scene of Wilmington cannot hold 8000 people. The guy who got the assult charge was PETTING the horse not hurting it at all. One guy got trampled by a police horse during the "riot" while the officer stared at him and did nothing. Quite a few people went to the hospital afterwards for respiratory problems caused by the pepper spray. You could clearly hear in the video all the crowd was saying was USA USA USA nothing violent was happening and there was no mob behavior. This happened around 2:30am not 5am. Wilmington was allbut silent at 5am. You need to get your facts straight before you post.