Seeing the Phillies win the World Series on Wednesday. Oct. 29, 2008 was a great experience for many. Seeing West Chester after the Phillies won, was not a great experience for those whose property was damaged. Some time after the baseball game ended, people gathered on Walnut Street, which quickly turned into a riot. Police responded to disperse the crowd in the streets.
Walnut Street was popular last week, filled with an estimated one to two thousand Phillies fans. The main focus of the street was the 500 to 600 block, where people gathered in the streets, cheering loudly and blocking traffic.
This part of West Chester became a problem when the fans became rioters as they threw bottles at the police and civilians. Soon after, a handful of people became destructive. A number of traffic signs were damaged or stolen. A traffic control signal, pedestrian crossing, was damaged, along with litter created in the streets. Two cars were overturned and a light poll was taken down.
Of the cars overturned, witnesses reported one was a Honda Civic. Police also stopped an attempt to light one of the cars on fire. Another car had the front windshield cracked by a beer bottle that was thrown. Recycling bins were also being thrown around in the crowd.
Charles Seese, a second-year student, was told by a friend that Walnut Street would be “a bigger event than the last time, when the Phillies won the National League championship and made it into the World Series.”
“There was a mob mentality that seemed like there were so many people that nobody could stop them if they tried,” Seese said.
With the excitement about the Phillies game, “everybody was happy.” The crowd “seemed so happy that they had a sense of carelessness . if it meant flipping a car, then they were going to flip a car.”
Seese described a “fire extinguisher” that police used to clear the area. He said that “we thought it was tear gas, we bolted out of there.”
A person was injured after a traffic sign came down falling into the crowd. They suffered a head injury and were treated at Temple University Hospital and later released. Another person injured was treated and released from Chester County Hospital.
Throughout the night, the police arrested several people, ending the disturbance in the neighborhood. Twelve other departments assisted the police to break up the riot and clear the area. One included the Major Incident Department.
In order to clear the area and through the aftermath of the night, arrests were made. Arrests were due to property damage and some were alcohol related. Criminal mischief is a felony if the cost of damages exceeds $1,000. Disorderly conduct charges can be a result of public drunkenness, inciting a riot, disturbance of the peace, blocking traffic and other causes.
The following people were arrested for alledged crimes.Gregory DeMorro, 22, was cited for criminal mischief on High and Lacey. Michael Clark Jr.,18, was arrested for criminal mischief of several cars located on Sharpless Ave. Kevin Bryan, 18 was arrested for receiving stolen property. Matthew South, 21, disorderly conduct on High and Market. Jonathan Makowski, 26, was arrested for public drunkenness, he was found on High Street. Lindsey Forwood, 20, was arrested for driving under the influence on Neild and Walnut.
West Chester University students that returned to their residence halls after the riot informed other students about the night’s occurrences. Many of them spoke about the cars that were overturned, the light poll that was taken out of the ground, and how people were standing on top of Septa buses.
When people on campus discussed the Phillies winning the World Series, most of those people also mentioned the incidents that occurred later that night in West Chester. Some claimed that people were “really happy and excited” and that was why they felt like destroying property. Other people said that the episode was “crazy” and they did not understand the urge to break other people’s personal property as well as public property.
Phillies fans were fortunate enough to witness the 2008 World Series. The police dealt with the celebrating crowd to clear the streets and restore the peace.
The police ask that anyone with information about the damage caused to call them at their station, 610-696-2700.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a second- year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.