Thousands of students gathered for the annual Mifflin Street Block Party Saturday, despite the continued presence of COVID-19 in Dane County.
Both the university and the City of Madison issued warnings to students last week, but the party quickly grew into a massive, maskless gathering. Current COVID-19 restrictions in Dane County allow unmasked outdoor gatherings if social distancing measures are being taken, however pictures of the party clearly show people packed in tightly.
“The selfishness people have to go do Mifflin during a pandemic & without a mask,” Nada Elmikashfi, Chief of Staff for state representative Francesca Hong, said on Twitter. “I’m terrified for the staff & personnel at @UWMadison that don’t deserve to be put at risk for infection just because y’all couldn’t postpone mass drinking for literally two more months.”
Only four people were ticketed during the party, according to the Madison Police Department. The official incident report stated citations were issued for disorderly conduct, violation of glass-free zone, and open intoxicants on a public street.
A video posted to the ‘Badger Barstool’ Instagram account shows four officers playing beer pong with a group of students on the sidewalk.
The police report said thousands gathered for the annual event, but attendance was lower than years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At one point during the afternoon the entire 500 Block of Mifflin was filled with students, when a group decided to jump on top of a car and smash its windshield.
The owner of the car — Kiera Sundeen,chairman of the Advisory Board for the Dean of Students — started a GoFundMe to raise money to pay for the damages. She says that along with the windshield damage, dents on the hood and roof will cost upwards of $3,000 to repair.
“At the University of Wisconsin Mifflin Block party, my classmates sadly decided to shatter and vandalize my car,” Sundeen said on the page. “This event is a direct display of privilege. If damages are covered by perpetrators, proceeds will go to The Antiracist Research & Policy Research Center, an organization that supports and promotes inequality and injustice research at a policy level.”
The campaign has already surpassed its goal of $3,000, raising over $3,300 in just 17 hours.
A friend of Sundeen’s roommate confirmed that everyone caught in the video vandalising the car has been identified.
“We are appalled by the actions of all those who participated in the Mifflin Street Block Party. You put the ENTIRE community of Madison at risk for a glorified tailgate,” the UW-Madison BIPOC Coalition said on Twitter. “Many officers could be seen playing beer pong in the same uniforms worn when brutalizing protestors all summer with gas and OC spray.”
The four citations issued by officers this year is just a quarter of the 16 they handed out at the last Mifflin Block Party in 2019, however the smaller crowd this year could explain fewer citations. Police say they are currently investigating the claims of property damage.