Last night, apparently, an end-of semester celebration in Fort Sanders got out of control. How out of control? We're not quite sure. It's Sunday, and that means neither us, nor the PR folks at the Knoxville Police Department or the Knox County Sheriff's Office are in the office, so it can take a while to get a response. But was there a big party? And did a lot of cops show up? Yes.
When the cops showed up, the party-goers weren't happy. Some starting shouting obscenities, and at least one person threw a beer bottle, but then this also happened:
Yes, our CMS is not letting us embed that Vine, but that really is a large group of drunk kids shouting, "Well, yes, it's great to be a Tennessee Vol," over and over at the police.
Turn Up in the streets of Knoxville https://t.co/0kuKLFX8gm
-- UTK Probs (@UTKprobs) April 27, 2014
According to WBIR, 15 people were arrested -- out of a party that KPD estimates at 800. (Is that number accurate? We have no idea.) But there's one arrest that's drawing all the attention, which was somehow published by the Daily Mail (yes, the British tabloid the Daily Mail) first. A series of photos taken by sometimes-News Sentinel freelancer John Messner show a young man handcuffed and a KCSO officer possibly putting him in a chokehold.
We've contacted KCSO for comment; they haven't yet responded. KPD spokesperson Darrell DeBusk (who's been out of town and actually doesn't know what's been going on) said that KPD doesn't currently have a comment, since the officers pictures are KCSO employees. (According to that WBIR story, KPD had to call for KCSO backup and 60 -- that's right, 60 -- officers responded to the scene.)
We're still woking on finding out more, but in the meantime, here's a description from a partygoer on the scene itself, Nathan Smith. Via email, he says:
I'm not too certain of a lot of the particular details about the party; I showed up to it around 11:45, which only a few minutes before police moved on the crowd. As I walked toward the party, a few individuals told me that it had already been shut down, so we decided to enter through the back of a friend's house. I believe it was at about 22nd and Laurel. I was at said friend's house for about 5 minutes until the cops began to break it up. It seemed like a fairly typical (albeit large) block party; most of it occurred across the street from me on the side closest to campus. A DJ was set up with a large crowd around him. It's hard to give an exact estimate, but definitely over 100 people were in attendance, probably even more than 200. From what I could tell, it seemed like a party several houses on the street were throwing together. At around 11:50, the police, lined up on 22nd, entered the crowd. Some party attendees began to flee the scene, but the majority stayed and backed up on to lawns and porches. The crowd then broke into chants of "F-ck the police" and "F-ck UT." Most of the people arrested came from the other side of the street (the side closest to campus), but the first arrest I noticed was fairly close to my location, near the intersection of 22nd and Laurel. One of the officers used a night stick and several more helped him push a young man onto the ground.Beyond a few occasional arrests, everything stayed fairly calm until someone threw a beer bottle. I didn't see this occur, but there was definitely an audible reaction from the crowd and police stepped up their efforts to control the crowd. By this time, more cops had arrived (There were at least 10 squad cars as well as a paddy wagon, but there could have been more). A few minutes after the beer bottle was thrown, more attendees had left the scene. I entered the house whose porch I was standing on and a little past midnight some of my friends entered and said that shotguns had been drawn and they had been told to "back the f-ck up." At that point, I didn't see much else except for the flashing of squad car lights. Afterwards, there was definitely still a visible police presence in the Fort.I didn't see the choking occur, although from the pictures it looked as if it occurred within the cluster of squad cars, which I hadn't paid much to attention to. What KPD reported to WBIR is much higher than anything I saw, but at the same time, I don't doubt the size.Also, from what I saw, what WBIR reported is the opposite of what happened- people were in the street before the police become involved, but after police entered the crowd, they mostly stuck to the lawns, with a few exceptions (most of those being the individuals arrested).
Nightsticks. Shotguns. Even if the chokehold pictures aren't what they seem, we're betting this is only the beginning of the story.