City leaders, organizers discuss policing ‘unofficial’ parties

A local Illinois mayor says his city is recovering after an out of control party resulted in multiple arrests.

During last weekend’s "Solar Bear" in Carbondale, more than 1,000 people held a block party that resulted in 27 citations and officers pepper spraying the crowd.

Promoter Anthony Greff says Solar Bear started in 2011 to drum up business for a local bar. 1,000-plus students have since expanded the party, where Greff says this year things got out of hand.

"For some reason, a kid who was getting an underage drinking ticket decided to run away from the cops, and they tackled him," said Greff.  "People started reacting when they saw the cops tackle this kid."

Outnumbered, and being hit with bottles and cups of beer, officers used pepper spray on the crowd.

Management at Aspen Court Apartments declined comment on the incident.

"I reached out to them several weeks ago before the event, asking if they needed help and they shunned any help," said Greff.

Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry says the officers handled themselves correctly, but it’s hard for the city to police parties on private property.

"We’ll figure out what we can do, but this is precisely the type of behavior that we don’t want from our students," said Henry.

"I’d have a checkpoint, and have residents limited to two guests for that particular weekend, and have people check in to get into the property," said Greff.

Henry says he expects the city to hire a new police chief within the next few weeks. It will then be up to the new police chief to decide how the city handles future unofficial events. 

Henry says he does expect the city council to discuss last weekend’s events at the upcoming council meeting.

In the meantime, students are gearing up for "Unofficial" Halloween on Oct. 16 and 17.

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