By Tia Lynn Ivey
Madison City police filed a report concerning an out-of-hand crowd after a “Mad Town Day” event in Gilbert Park on Sept. 30, prompting city officials to review event policies in neighborhood parks in the future.
According to a police report filed by Officer Andrew Koth, up to 600 people dispersed from this year’s Mad Town Day at Gilbert Park and spread across town in various areas, with up to 300 people gathered outside along Morgan Circle that Saturday evening. Koth arrived to find the road blocked by parked cars and up to 300 people outside, documenting a laundry list of legal violations amongst the crowd, including marijuana smoking, underage drinking, public intoxication, reckless driving, disorderly conduct, damage to government property, theft of power, trespassing, improper parking, littering, loitering, child endangerment, loud music, and the crowd encouraging children to fight.
Koth reported that he witnessed event attendees driving “all over town” who were “continuously disruptive to the City of Madison” until 3:30 a.m. Koth also reported chants of “F*** the police!”
While Koth noted some minor infractions during the event itself, such as ATV and dirt bike riding, the report indicates the crowd got out of control after the event had ended when hundreds of people dispersed to other parts of town, including outside of the Waffle House and P&J. Koth also noted an excessive amount of out-of-county license plates belonging to event attendees.
“When I arrived at Morgan Circle, I found that the entire area was impassable due to the high volume of passenger vehicles and pedestrians,” wrote Koth in the report. Koth reported that it took about an hour-and-a-half to clear Morgan Circle.
One of the organizers of the event, Antwon Carter, 25, was disappointed some of the event attendees caused trouble afterwards, but maintained the intentions of the event was to bring the community together for a day of fun for local families and children.
“The event itself was very positive and it was a success, because we came together as one without any violence. We came together as a community and we all got along,” said Carter. “What happened after the event was definitely beyond my control, but we want to take all the necessary steps to do better in future years to control the event and work with police to make sure people don’t negatively affect the community around us.”
Carter noted that earlier in the day, more than 100 kids were fed and played on the bouncy houses and in the park.
“Our intention is to give these kids something to look forward to, something positive to do here in Madison,” said Carter, who graduated from Morgan County High School and is set to graduate from Piedmont College with a degree in Business Administration. “As a minority who grew up here in Madison, there isn’t a lot for us to do. And when kids don’t have anything to do, they will find something to do, and it won’t always be good things. That’s when crime rates get elevated. We want to give these kids and these families something good to do right here in the City, to give them some hope.”
Carter also praised city police for their help during the event.
“The police were beyond patient with us and gave us every opportunity to fix the areas we got wrong,” said Carter. “This was the most people we ever had, so now that we know how many people this event could draw each year, we want to work with the police and our elected officials to make sure we can handle the crowd size better in the future. If it were up to me, I would have the police or off-duty cops on every corner to help manage the event,” said Carter.
Carter also decried the out-of-town attendees who caused trouble after the event.
“You know, some of the out of town people who came don’t cherish this event like the people in Madison do. They don’t understand what we are trying to do here,” said Carter.
The trouble that ensued after the event has prompted the Madison Mayor and City Council to address the incident at a future.
“We want to have a good discussion about this so we can learn from it and get some ideas on how we can do better in the future,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, who attended the event in the earlier part of the day. “It’s a great event, but it got out of hand, not from our local citizens, but from the out-of-town visitors and that makes Madison look bad…if we are going to continue having this event, we need to look into having some off-duty officers there to keep a better eye on things. But the kids had a great time and we don’t want to take this away from the kids just because some other people came through and messed things up.”