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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.


Everyone argues its the

Everyone argues its the police. People figure its ok to come to someone else town and make a disturbance. They had a discussion a couple months back on bartenders to be arrested if severing people that are drunk. What happened there? ALE is no long working on that anymore as the report said large drunk crowd, some so drunk had to taken to a hospital, some cared by others. Where are the MP's at from Camp Lejeune when the Marines bitched and wined that they were not aloud in the clubs and bars? I would like to see some of that happen.

The crowd did not appear

The crowd did not appear violent, if anything the police may have felt antagonized. However, it was not appropriate to respond with pepper spray as a first resort. It had only been 20-30 minutes after closing time, many were simply waiting outside I Love NY Pizza and on the corners for taxis.


Just to say, you need to not only imagine yourself in the shoes of those in the crowd, but the WPD force also. If you are a cop surrounded by hundreds of drunk young people, (and for all some of you know, some of those people in the crowd could have been causing a problem. You just didn't see it because either you were't there or were too drunk or busy yelling USA with those who weren't causing trouble) you are going to want to be sure of your safety. And they weren't just spraying for the fun of it. They sprayed because they thought it would be better for the majority of people and the community.

As the video showed, the

As the video showed, the crowd was not doing anything to harm the people or places of downtown. They were just dancing around, having fun, and started chanting "USA! USA! USA!" The WPD could have tried a few other methods of getting the crowd to disperse, rather than pepper spray/tear gas/what have you. (By the way, I have friends that were there that said they were hit with tear gas, not pepper spray). It was just a group of people enjoying themselves, a fun holiday, and life. But apparently, we're not entitled to do so anymore.

WPD, get off your high horse (no pun intended) and try a less harmful method of breaking up a crowd when there's nothing wrong happening.

doesn't surprise me

i remember coming out of a club one time downtown a couple years back on a Saturday night .

and getting a whiff of pepper spray because the cops thought that the sidewalk was too crowded,apparently a fight had broke out before the club had let out so a large number of people had gathered to watch.

after that the mix of pepper spray ,drunk people fighting,and being relentlessly bugged for money by homeless people,or plan bigotry by bar owners.

"i had my head shaved because well my hair was thinning ,i hadn't drunk anything and went to a bar downtown to shot some pool and eat some pub grub,and the bartender said sorry we don't serve marines here.

yeah i had to explain to the manager i wasn't in the service and i didn't know nacho's where such a taboo with enlisted men and women."

after that i felt no need to experience the downtown life.

i feel bad for those kids though i remember years ago visiting downtown wilmington during halloween and seeing everyone dressed up times like that was fun.


We were walking back after a party at the Hilton and passed through a few minutes before the cops broke up the crowd. There was a volatile mix of young military and college males and the posturing was just beginning. I don't agree with the cops spraying the kids but it was starting to get ugly. The cops probably prevented a huge fight from breaking out.
They really could use more mounted officers downtown to control these crowds

As a resident of downtown, I

As a resident of downtown, I was kept awake by this drunken mob.

Frankly, I would not care if tear gas were released every time a noisy group of barhoppers congregate and make noise.

I have lived downtown for eight years, and the drunkeness and rowdiness and noise are getting worse each year.

Time for the police to pull out the black jacks and lay them upside the heads of some of these loud, obnoxious drunks.

you really want the cops to

you really want the cops to beat people

Maybe you should move

Ok, you live downtown, which is predominately bars and nightclubs, in a college town, surrounded by military bases! I have a feeling you are living in the wrong place and should prob move if you dont like loud crowds at 3am, cause your gona get it every night. Seriously man it was halloween and they're chanting USA!!! At least they have pride for their country. BTW black jacks really? hope you never become a cop, you'd b fired your 1st day! violent much.

Maybe YOU should move

Yeah, we live in a college town with a beach and we're in close proximity to 2 major military installations.

We also live in a town where idiots frequently show their true idiotic, drunken natures every weekend in the downtown bar district.

We ALSO live in a town where local law enforcement knows it's better to ward off a potential problem than allow it to escalate. I have a feeling YOU are living in the wrong place if you don't like police officers who proactively work to make our streets safer, because you're going to get it every single night.

Hope you never reproduce and further pollute the gene pool, there's enough knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers like yourself already. Idiot much?


If you don't like loud populated areas, move.

You should leave downtown.

You should leave downtown. This is where the party should be.

So you actually expect a

So you actually expect a predominantly military and college port town to not get rowdy at night? Especially on a weekend? Even more especially on a holiday as generally raucous as Halloween? You live in the wrong town/area if you expect peace and quiet in the cultural center of Wilmington.

I would say something along the lines of 'Get off my lawn' but seeing as you live downtown you probably don't have one. 'Get off my stoop'?


Yes. I think it is reasonable to expect people to have some level of self control at all times, to have some level of respect for themselves and those around them at all times. And yes, residents of downtown should expect a reasonable noise level at all times. And yes, police should enfoce this by reasonable means. And yes, it might be party time, but yes, the rules of the world still apply.


From what I can tell this is uncalled for, sure the kids need to disperse, but if they aren't destroying property or threatening the police there has to be a better way to getting them to leave. Shouldn't just resort to tear gas right away.

Hey, guess what

When I posted that comment the update from WPD regarding the use of pepper spray had not been placed in the story.

Still, a drunken crowd does not necessarily mean a hostile crowd, and immediately pulling out any form of chemical dispersant is probably not the best way to handle a situation.

The report CLEARLY says

The report CLEARLY says pepper spray - NOT tear gas! Pay attention if you're going to complain about something!

There is no reason fully grown adult men and women need to be out in public and become such a nuisance to the area. What gives them the sense of entitlement that they can be so disruptive in this wonderful place we live? Why do they feel the need to be seen out in public acting like a bunch of wild animals? I know for a fact that adult people can go out and have a great time, and still be responsible for themselves, and not cause the area Police Department to have to come out in force to control their silly/drunken behinds.

This is no way for adults to behave! What is wrong with you????

So, since someone accused

So, since someone accused them of using tear gas and it wasn't tear gas, the accuser has no right to complain? You are ridiculous! It doesn't matter whether it was tear gas, pepper spray, or a water cannon, the police actions were inappropriate for the peaceful situation.

I was downtown and sober

I was downtown and sober because I was bartending. This group was not destructing anything... they where having a good time and chanting USA! Drunk or not it is a shame that we are now getting persecuted and pepper sprayed for chanting U.S.A These bars are keeping our tourism alive. The police decided to barricade them and with no warning started pushing the crowd and spraying them with Pepper Spray to the point I saw one man fall and be trampled not only by the crowd but a mounted policeman as well. This was excessive force and this needs to stop!

Tear gas would be wrong, but

Tear gas would be wrong, but pepper spray is ok? I think you're just looking for an excuse to justify what looks to be an unprovoked attack by people who should be looking out for public safety. Police escalate way too quickly in general. This is not the only isolated incident.

I know, how rude

Those mean bully police officers. What right do they have to treat spoiled, disrespectful punks like that? Well, as you can tell by the videos, the police were vastly outnumbered. As history tells us, when there is a large gathering of young people that have been consuming alcohol it won't take long for the violence or property destruction to begin. The police did what they are paid to do and got them to disperse.


What gives you the right to claim that people having a good time are "spoiled, disrespectful. punks"? Guess your favorite movie is Foot Loose, and you rooted against Kevin Bacon.


No, it isn't my favorite movie but it is a good movie none the less. You ask what gives me the right to claim what I did? I have the ability to form an opinion and the constitutional right to free speech. Since you want to talk movies I'd guess your favorite movie was Sling Blade and you want to be Carl.

What about that

What about that constitutional right of peaceful assembly?

Your idea of peaceful

That crowd of drunks is your idea of a peaceful assembly? If we are going to split hairs I do believe the City of Wilmington requires a permit for an assembly. Did they have the required permit?


Peaceful??!? NONE - not one - of the clips showed ANYthing peaceful. The first three clips are definitely NOT peaceful, but if you had any doubts, you need only look at the 4th clip. THAT is chaos, NOT peaceful.

We have constitutional rights, but the right to be a jackass is NOT one of them.

It is still there

It wasn't peaceful. Kind of missing that element.

real mature

Are adults really posting these comments? Does it have to come down to name calling and insults? It makes me sad that there can't be an intellegent discussion over this event without everyone attacking each other.

Tear Gas

Tear gas and pepper spray are two different things...Hmmmmmm let's do the math...150-200 ppl and 30 officers lets say for a joke WPD had that many officers on duty last night...What are the odds that the 150-200 ppl will get the upper hand? If you knew what you were talking about you would know that officers are issued things such as pepper spray, batons, guns, etc. to protect themselves from 150-200 ppl, I don't know about you Einstein but the math just does not add up and it sure does not fall in favor of the police officers...So I say WPD keep on doing that thing that you do...

Yes, but...

Yes, there were far more dancing citizens than there were police officers, but the police offers were not being assaulted/threatened. If there were no cases of violence, assault, property damage, or other probable causes, then there was no reasonable excuse to use pepper spray. To argue that the WPD can do whatever they want in any situation where they find themselves outnumbered--which, in fact, is ANY situation since there are more non-officers than officers--is an argument that opposes reason, justice, freedom, and democracy. In other words, it is a very un-American argument.

To calm the noisy crowd, megaphones or other, less harmful methods of dispersal could have been employed. In my opinion, the use of pepper spray without due cause AND without proper warning shows a deep amount of disrespect.