Scufflers arrested in fireworks crowd

July 06, 2006|By CHRIS YAKAITIS | CHRIS YAKAITIS,SUN REPORTER

At least 15 people were arrested on disorderly conduct charges as fights broke out in crowds that flooded Pratt Street after the July 4 fireworks display at the Inner Harbor, a Baltimore police spokesman said yesterday.

Officer Troy Harris said a few minor skirmishes and "common assaults" occurred about 10 p.m. as police began ushering spectators out of the Inner Harbor.

He said a few people refused to leave and sparked a handful of fistfights. No weapons were used, he said.

Police officers rushed into the crowd and quickly controlled the scene. One person was taken to an area hospital for minor injuries, Harris said.

Police said 175,000 to 200,000 people turned out to watch the 15-minute display.

"This was nowhere close to the kind of problems you could be dealing with in a crowd of this size," Harris said.

"With that many people in the heat, things flare up," said Col. Scott Williams, commander of the Police Department's tactical squad. "We were prepared for it."

In 1993, merchants closed some Harborplace shops early after a crowd of young people, described by witnesses as rowdy, rude and fighting, ran through the tourist pavilion on Easter Sunday.

The mayor at the time, Kurt L. Schmoke, criticized the closings, calling it an overreaction. Police then made no arrests.

chris.yakaitis@baltsun.com

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