College spring break party leads to 'civil unrest' in California

UC Santa Barbara students brawl with police; roughly 100 arrested, 44 injured

About 100 partygoers were arrested and at least 44 hospitalized Saturday evening after a massive California college party turned violent with assaults on police, multiple stabbings, and rioting in the streets.

An annual spring break party of about 15,000 people — known as Deltopia — turned into an out-of-control street brawl around 9:30 p.m., authorities said.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said the “civil unrest” began after a University of California, Santa Barbara police officer was hit in the face with a backpack filled with bottles of alcohol.

Authorities said some members of the enormous crowd began throwing rocks, bricks, and bottles at officers — lighting fires and damaging law-enforcement vehicles.

Crowds chanted “fuck the police” and “America” for hours as they battled security forces in riot gear in the beach-side community of Isla Vista, according to UC Santa Barbara’s independent student-run newspaper, the Daily Nexus.

At least five officers were injured in the melee, including one officer who was hit in the face with a brick and two others who were hit with bottles, sheriff’s deputies said. All had been released from the hospital by Sunday morning, Hoover said.

Police used tear gas, pepper spray and foam projectiles to disperse the surging mob.

Earlier in the day, authorities also responded to reports of a stabbing and found several individuals carrying weapons, Hoover said. Aside from those who were treated after the brawl broke out, nearly every person who was hospitalized on Saturday had consumed excess alcohol, she added.

Isla Vista borders the university and is known for its party atmosphere. The densely populated, half-mile area has roughly 23,000 residents — of which 60 percent are students.

Hoover said authorities remained in the area Sunday morning to clean up broken glass and trash strewn throughout the neighborhood.

“It was really ridiculous,” Hoover said.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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