This year’s Mifflin Street Block Party ended on an unsettling note as the crowds swelled to record numbers, bottles and cases of beer flooded the street and police said two partygoers were stabbed.
While the stabbings were unrelated and occurred about two hours apart, both victims were sent to a local hospital.
The first stabbing occurred around 5:12 p.m. on the 500 block of Mifflin. A 21-year-old University of Wisconsin student was hospitalized with multiple life-threatening stab wounds, according to a Madison Police report. His name had not been released Sunday.
At the time of the stabbing, three men were observed fleeing the scene, and police believed one of them to be the suspect. The 22-year-old suspect listed a Green Bay address and was later arrested along with the two accomplices who police found a block away with bloodstained clothing, said Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4.
“The extremely serious stabbing really cast a giant cloud over this year’s event,” Verveer said.
Verveer said police told him late Saturday that the victim would fully recover from his injuries.
Another drunk partygoer was taken to the hospital after being stabbed in the buttocks on the 400-block of Mifflin Street, MPD Lieutenant Dave McCaw said. The victim told officers he was stabbed and police are still investigating, as there were no witnesses at the scene.
As of 9 p.m. Saturday, police made 160 arrests, the report said.
Despite the rough ending to the event, the day appeared to start off well. The sky was clear, the sun streamed in and out and the thunderstorms students were dreadfully expecting failed to make an appearance.
Partiers older than 21 were allowed to carry open intoxicants in the street for the first time since the 1990s, as the event found a new sponsor with Majestic Theaters, which co-sponsored with Capitol Neighborhood, Inc. Students carried cases of beer down the street while others took pulls from plastic bottles of vodka.
“This is the easy portion of [Mifflin],” McCaw said around 11:30 a.m.
At the beginning of the day, McCaw said MPD’s biggest concern was overcrowded balconies.
But as time continued and the alcohol flow increased, the arrests grew and police officers suffered more injuries than in recent years.
Verveer said three officers were taken to the hospital and later released. One officer received a black eye after being punched in the face when trying to stop a student carrying a bottle.
The MPD report said two other officers were injured while trying to apprehend a partygoer. One suffered bruised ribs and the other, a leg injury.
Verveer said overall he expects city officials to try to make major changes to the event, including potentially shutting it down.
“In no way can I see the city supportive of alcohol in the streets again at this event,” Verveer said. “It obviously did not work. It’s an experiment that failed.”
By early afternoon, Verveer said the event was the most crowded he had ever seen after attending block parties for many years, most likely because of the cooperative weather. At that point, navigating the streets became a challenge for attendees, as stumbling students were packed shoulder-to-shoulder throughout Mifflin Street.
By mid-afternoon, McCaw said people appeared to be “hammered out of their skulls” after police broke up four house parties. He said officers had been transporting people to detox all day, with more than 20 partygoers compared to the previous year’s five.
Verveer said the lifting of the open intoxicant ban likely led to unintended consequences, like partygoers feeling they could get away with anything, including the stabbing, since the rules were relaxed.
City officials hoped allowing open intoxicants and the selling of beer would change the focus of the event from binge drinking to live music and food, much like the Taste of Madison. However, allowing drinking in the street led to a plethora of carry-ins and relatively little beer sold by the event sponsors, Verveer said.
“Our goal was to get the party out of the backyard,” Verveer said. “But we realized very early on that the crowd size was way too large for [Mifflin] residences to adequately hold all these people.”