Large gathering on Pearl Street Mall results in significant property damage

Posted on 10/31/2021 at 12:40 AM
Shannon Aulabaugh

Boulder Police responded late Friday night and into early Saturday to a gathering that grew to an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 partygoers on the Pearl Street Mall, prompting concerns about dangerous crowd conditions and reports of property damage to local businesses.

Officers on foot patrol first began to see a crowd of approximately 200 developing in the 1100 block of Pearl Street at about 9:30 p.m. By 11 p.m., the crowd had more than quadrupled, with some participants hanging from light poles and trees, accessing rooftops and causing property damage to windows, tables, chairs and outdoor heating posts.

Concerned about the disorderly and illegal conduct, police responded with a large, uniformed presence and began efforts to disperse the crowd. Most individuals, many of whom appeared to be under the influence, responded to verbal commands.

There are some indications that at least some participants were drawn to the area in response to social media efforts to resurrect the Pearl Street Mall Crawl, a tradition that businesses and city officials have discouraged in recent years due to safety and property damage concerns. The crowd on Friday night also raised public health concerns, as unmasked individuals were in very close proximity to one another at a time when hospital resources are severely constrained due to COVID-19.

While dispersing the crowd was the primary objective, the police department was able to use drones both as a response and documentation tool. Investigators will be reviewing this footage, working to identify anyone recorded conducting illegal activity and will make targeted arrests.

“We recognize the negative impact a situation like this has on our local business community, which is already feeling significant pressure due to the pandemic,” Deputy Police Chief Stephen Redfearn said. “We will be using our investigative resources to demonstrate that there are consequences to destruction of property and other unlawful behaviors.”

City officers, in partnership with University of Colorado Boulder police, were already conducting increased patrols associated with the Halloween weekend. Both agencies will continue to maintain a significant enforcement and patrol presence through to Monday morning. This includes providing both public and private sector security and staffing for a concert planned for Saturday night at the CU Events Center.

While there were likely many participants not associated with the university, the two law enforcement agencies pledged Saturday to continue their practice of working collaboratively to ensure public safety.

CUPD officers responded to assist Friday night and will coordinate with BPD on the investigation. In addition to any municipal sanctions, students identified and found to be in violation of the university’s student code of conduct, or involved in criminal activity, will face disciplinary consequences from the university.

“We understand the desire to go out and have a good time on a beautiful holiday weekend,” Redfearn said. “The police department supports safe, responsible gatherings. What occurred on Pearl Street last night, however, posed significant danger to participants, resulted in unacceptable damage to property and required extensive police resources to address.”

Anyone who witnessed or experienced property damage is asked to contact Boulder Police at 303-441-3333. To report a crime in progress, please call 911.