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Mardi Gras festivity turns violent

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Police: Crowd turned on news vans

Unrest in Seattle


PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Mardi Gras celebrations in Philadelphia and Seattle erupted into melees, some including looting and violence late Tuesday.

The more severe disturbances broke out near downtown Philadelphia where more than two dozen people were injured.

The melee started shortly after 11 p.m., as the police were attempting to clear the streets, a police department spokeswoman said. "A number of bottles were thrown," said Lt. Susan Slawson. "Then they broke windows for no reason at all." Fighting broke out among members of the crowd, too, she said.

The unrest lasted more than an hour.

Alcohol may have played a role, she said. "You had people out there drinking since early in the day. But I don't know what causes people to all of a sudden turn."


Police: Crowd turned on news vans

Slawson said the crowd turned on news vans, breaking windows in three of them, and trying without success to flip them on their side.

At one point, several youths jumped onto the hood of a car that was driving toward a crowd of people who were walking in the street. When one of the youths smashed the windshield, the car drove into the crowd, hitting at least two people. It was not clear whether they were hurt and, if so, how badly.

"From what I saw, it didn't appear that anyone was severely injured from that," said Slawson, who was in the thick of it.

After several people smashed the plate-glass windows of a liquor store, dozens entered the store and then emerged, carrying off bottles.

At another store, a man reached through shattered glass, grabbed a stuffed animal and kept walking. At least five stores were looted, Slawson said.

A shot from a WPVI-TV helicopter showed two people kicking a third on the sidewalk.

The violence was centered on South Street between 3rd and 7th Streets, he said.

"Things just started to spread," said Dennis Richardson, a photographer for KYW-TV who spent the day covering the festivities. "They damaged a news vehicle in front of the vehicle I was operating; then they moved their way to my vehicle."

Someone threw a bottle into his van, spraying glass inside it, he said. "It got pretty frightening for a moment."

Police moved in quickly, though, he said. "Then it seemed like everybody cleared out, the party was over, the momentum was lost. They were arresting people left and right and it just calmed down. I think it really was a matter of a few people just out of control

Unrest in Seattle

At Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, "about 20" people sought help, the nursing supervisor said. "Our (emergency room) is packed right now," she said at 2:10 a.m., 10 minutes after the bars had closed. "They keep coming in. A lot of inebriated people, some slashings, that sort of stuff."

None appeared seriously injured, she said.

A spokeswoman for University Hospital said its emergency room treated five people for minor injuries. One person was treated for minor injuries at Methodist Hospital.

In Seattle, a large crowd gathered in Pioneer Square in Seattle caused several instances of unrest when pockets of different groups broke out into fights. Police had made a handful of arrests by midnight local time (3 a.m. EST), and more were expected throughout the night said a spokeswoman for the Seattle Police Department. The arrests ranged from minor weapons violations to fireworks violations to liquor-related offenses. Several guns were taken into custody.

There were no reports of injuries, but SWAT teams and mounted patrols were on site, continuing to attempt to quell the crowds.

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City of Austin Police Department
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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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