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Mass Disturbance Follows Pittsfield Street Fair

By Joe Durwin
Pittsfield Correspondent
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A fight between two young women attracted a crowd of more than 100 on Melville Street.

Police made a number of arrests and used pepper spray to disperse the burgeoning crowd.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Melee broke out on Melville Street immediately following the conclusion of the first 3rd Thursday street fair of the season, resulting in extensive crowd control measures and multiple arrests.

According to the Police Department, the incident initially stemmed from a fight between two young women on the small side street just off North Street, then spiraled into chaos when two officers responding on the scene became surrounded by a large crowd of youths.

Capt. David Granger estimated that a crowd of more than 100 people, mostly teenagers, converged around the initial disturbance.

"They tried to break up the fight. A mob mentality took over, from the large crowd. Multiple arrests were made," he said.

Well over a dozen officers arrived on the scene, including three plain-clothed officers who emerged from an unmarked police vehicle as screaming teens ran in all directions. Pepper spray was used to push back the disorganized crush of onlookers, and several youths were seen leaving the scene showing visible signs of facial spraying. At least three young men were seen being subdued and handcuffed in the street and adjacent parking lot.

A number of the young people present at the disturbance voiced the opinion that excessive force was used in containing the initial incident.

"After 3rd Thursday, they told us we needed to get off the street, so we did, and there's some stupid people fighting," said one young girl, a relative of one of those arrested. "My nephew's standing there looking around, and nine cops tackled him for no reason. All of a sudden they're running around pepper spraying everybody."

Police ordered all pedestrians to clear Melville Street and intersecting North Pearl Street, opposite the Boys & Girls Club, a process made more complicated by a continuing stream of curious pedestrians from among the large crowd still circulating on North Street. The street remained closed for approximately a half-hour in the aftermath of the affray.

Granger said he would classify the incident as "a large disturbance" rather than a riot.

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