Screenshot of video posted on YouTube by Tim Muto.
 
It was meant to be a party to celebrate the upcoming end of the school year at Western Illinois University. Instead, the Wheeler Street block party in the rural Midwestern town of Macomb got out of hand resulting in hundreds of partygoers red-eyed from pepper spray, injured police officers, dozens of arrests and lots of confusion over who was to blame.
 
WARNING: These videos contain explicit language.
 
Amateur video of the SWAT team arrival to Wheeler Street. Video posted on YouTube.
 
 
Amateur videos circulating on YouTube capture the madness at the college party attended by an estimated 3,000 students. One video in particular shows students tearing down and burning a stop sign. According to Macomb Police Chief, Curt Barker, it was the fire that prompted police officers to call riot police for backup. Not wanting to end the party, several intoxicated students threw beer bottles at the police. Law enforcement officers responded by dousing students with mace.
 
Student setting stop sign on fire. Video posted on YouTube.
 
However, the videos also show police pepper-spraying what appear to be innocent students, clearly several metres from the raucous partygoers.
 
Students are running and screaming from the tear gas. Video posted on YouTube.
 
Parents of many of these students have pressed both the University and the local police for answers and in some cases are seeking legal counsel. The Macomb newspaper, The McDonough Voice reported that at least one student hired an attorney following the incident.
 
 

"At one point, the riot troops were chasing people into their homes"

Tim Muto is a student at Western Illinois University. He recorded one of the many videos on YouTube.
 
I’m a junior at Western and I was at a friend’s house on the eastern corner of Wheeler Street. I was enjoying the party. The police had set up camp on an abandoned house on one of the parallel streets and they had been going up and down the street doing normal police work, everything was peaceful. When all of a sudden they just left their posts and they formed a line, like a human barricade, on the eastern end of Wheeler Street where I was watching from my friend’s house. There were so many of them that they were even standing - trespassing - in people’s yards.
 
Riot teams form a human barricade on Wheeler Street. Filmed and posted on You Tube by Tim Muto.
 
They were just standing there waiting for a problem to happen. They already had the solution in place. They were just looking for a problem in order to implement it. The riot gear people started pushing people on the streets, on their own private houses, assaulting them and using mace on them.
 
I get the chills just thinking about it. I remember hearing the screams. I can’t even listen to the audio of my own footage.
 
My friend was one of the first to go down and you can see it in my first video.
 
Video of riot police on Wheeler Street. Filmed and posted on You Tube by Tim Muto.
 
This went on and on. Even as the crowd dispersed, it’s as if they didn’t even want to let people out into their own yards. At one point, the riot cops were chasing people into their homes. It was hard to breathe inside because of all the spray. But, you couldn’t go back outside.
 
I went to another Wheeler Block Party during my first year and everything was fine. I didn’t go to the one last year but there are reports that the police ended up shutting down that party too. However, nothing had ever happened on this scale.
 
I’m not against having police there. It’s like going to Mardi Gras or any other big event where you need security.”
 
Post was written with Romina Ruiz-Goiriena journalist at FRANCE 24.