Ruckus at Livingstone College, one arrested

Published 12:10 am Monday, October 17, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — It’s not clear what initiated the disturbance at Livingstone College early Sunday morning, but police officials say several hundred college students and visitors were involved in a fight. The fight prompted campus police to place the campus on lockdown for the rest of the night.

Salisbury Police issued a statement Sunday saying the incident occurred just after midnight and it was the third time police had responded to the campus at 701 W. Monroe St.

Livingstone College Police and Rowan Sheriff’s deputies were called to the campus to assist after officials received calls in reference to a disturbance. Police say Salisbury Fire and Rowan EMS were asked to stage in an area, if needed.

In response to growing confrontations with officers and fighting by some members of the groups, tear gas was used to disperse the crowd. The crowd did disperse, officials said.

One person was arrested during the event. Police did not immediately have details available as to the person arrested.

Salisbury City Councilman Kenny Hardin said he’d received several phone calls throughout the night and finally just before midnight he drove to the campus. The first call he received was just before 10 p.m. about an on-campus fight.

Hardin said he parked and was met with a sea of police, fire and EMS. He began counting from the gated entrance to the quad and concluded there were about 23 police cars on site.

A female campus police officer told Hardin someone tried to punch her during the incident. Apparently, there were several fights throughout the campus.

Hardin said he followed behind police who were dispatched to another part of campus for an incident. The group proceeded to the college’s honors dorm where a small crowd had gathered in front of the door.

“They were being loud and unruly,” Hardin said of the youth gathered outside.

“I have to say, the police showed a lot of patience and restraint, and calm and professionalism. Those kids were out of control. I appreciated the way the sheriff’s deputies and police and campus security handled the situation,” Hardin said.

He added that had the situation escalated, it could’ve easily been a “Ferguson or Charlotte.”

The off-campus visitors and students began taunting and yelling at police. Hardin said he walked to the middle of the crowd and just started talking to those gathered. He asked them where they were from and pleaded with them to go inside their dorms.

“I tried to push them along. They were being defiant, unruly. They were not complying,” he said.

Hardin said visitors were asked to sit on a bench and students were asked to go inside their dormitories, but no one listened.

He said at one point, a freshman student he’d just spoken with did not listen to the officers’ commands and became unruly.

“Several officers rushed him, put him in handcuffs and arrested him,” Hardin said.

Hardin said he was disappointed in what he saw.

“I grew up on that end of town. Livingstone College was our refuge. We would walk around campus. They don’t respect what this college means to the community,” he said of the youth.

“I don’t want anybody to sit here and try to do defend this mess. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong,” Hardin said of the students and visitors.

He said there was a beautiful parade earlier in the day, there was a good crowd and those who fought “marred it.”

“I’m just disappointed,” Hardin said.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.