Madison Police Department Central District Captain of Police Michael Hanson called to end the annual Mifflin Street Block Party in a press conference Monday.
The Mifflin Street Block Party, referred to as “Mifflin” by students, is typically held annually on the last Saturday of April. The event is not sanctioned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison or MPD and has a history of incident reports, noise complaints and property damage.
After last year’s balcony collapse that injured three and hospitalized two, the Madison Police Department deployed around 200 units for the non-sponsored party this year. As of 6 p.m. Saturday, officials made 44 arrests for alcohol-related offenses, according to an incident report filed by MPD.
Hanson said he is “very serious” about ending the party for good during Monday’s press conference, citing the prevalence of underage drinking.
“No one sanctions it and no one owns it, so we need to work together on finding better measures,” Hanson said. “I have a commitment from [University of Wisconsin] Police that said they’d work with us on looking at other events throughout the country where collaboration led to the end of these events.”
Wisconsin wide receiver Markus Allen was among those arrested Saturday. Police reported finding a stolen handgun in his backpack after arresting him for having an open alcoholic drink.
Allen was released after posting bail, according to The Associated Press. He currently faces a potential charge for carrying a concealed weapon in addition to an alcohol-related charge.
Badger Barstool’s Instagram account posted a video that appeared to show police pepper spraying two men wrestling in the mud, causing a group of party-goers to disperse. MPD did not respond to a request for comment about whether using pepper spray against partygoers is standard procedure.
MPD comments follow underage drinking crackdown
The Central District Police Team has recently cracked down more severely against underage drinking in the city. In April, City Bar, a bar located on State Street, paid a nearly $15,000 fine after police cited 137 people for underage drinking last fall.
Hanson spoke during the press conference to address what he said were high levels of alcohol consumption. Police reported 13 noise complaints, 17 overcrowding complaints and 20 intoxicated persons reports, according to Hanson.
“We felt anecdotally the crowd was increased this year,” Hanson said. “For whatever reason, it felt like there was more people out there.”
MPD made multiple unsuccessful attempts to shut down Mifflin in previous years.
In 2013, the police department issued a resident information letter declaring “there will be no Mifflin Street Block Party.” The city eventually backed down in response to pushback from students, though attendance dropped that year.
Hanson said he will continue to look for ways to end the block party in the future.
“I won’t give up on that, absolutely not,” he said.
Student report mixed experiences at Mifflin Block Party
Kelsey Hansen, a UW-Madison sophomore and Mifflin Street resident, was one of the approximately 10,000 attendees present at the event Saturday.
“So many people were trying to get into our house and being incredibly disrespectful,” Hansen told The Daily Cardinal. “Everytime I would leave, it would be like a wave of people trying to push themselves in, and I would have to use full force and close the door on them. But it was hard turning people away, and I felt really bad.”
Although she had fun at times, Hansen said the party caused her too much stress and anxiety as a resident after her house was “covered with mud” and vomit clogged her sink, yard and balconies.
“It’s really sad because it’s my home, and I want to live somewhere I feel safe and comfortable.” Hansen said. “After Mifflin, it didn’t feel like that.”
Other Mifflin Street residents reported more positive experiences during Saturday’s event. UW-Madison junior Adam Bernklau told The Daily Cardinal he enjoyed Mifflin despite his house being “destroyed.”
“I loved it honestly. Even though our house was a mess, we went in expecting that to happen and I really did not mind [it] at all,” Bernklau said. “It was a great time, and it was awesome to see so many people I knew in one place.”
Hansen said she regrets living on Mifflin Street due to the aftermath of the event. She reported only living on Mifflin because it is a relatively cheap and easy living option for a second-year student.
“People simply had no respect for the fact that these are people's property and houses and that they live here,” Hansen said. “You can’t just use it for your convenience and then not have to reap any consequences.”
Despite efforts over the years from the MPD to prevent Mifflin from happening, students continue to celebrate the annual event that dates back to the Vietnam War.
“I threw up three times. A girl passed out on our couch and threw up on my jacket. Cigs were rolling,” Bernklau said. “Overall, great time.”