In an effort to end the Mifflin Street Block Party for the foreseeable future, the city of Madison will no longer permit or sanction this year’s event on May 4, police told residents at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday.
Madison Police Department will step up the strict enforcement of city ordinances started at last year’s event in an effort to end to the block party altogether, according to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4. Police will particularly focus on violations of city alcohol, trespassing and disruptive behavior ordinances, he said.
In addition to further increasing enforcement and police presence, Larry Warman, chairperson of the Mifflin West Neighborhood Association said MPD is employing a zero-tolerance approach to house parties on Mifflin Street.
Despite seeing fewer sexual assaults and injuries, Warman said last year’s block party was still took a toll on the community.
“It was not a pretty picture last year, even with the efforts to control [the block party],” Warman said.
Officer Matthew Magolan, a member of the central district community policing team, cited a concurrent event, Revelry, as a possible alternative to the event.
“The sooner these illegal house parties are brought under control and the UW Revelry Music and Arts Festival replaces the spring student party with a safe alternative, the safer we can make our community as a whole,” Magolan said in an emailed statement to The Badger Herald.
Illegal house parties will be cited for any and all ordinance violations police find on the property, according to an MPD statement. This includes allowing underage drinking at the party and dispensing alcohol in a way that resembles a bar, the statement said. Police will also disperse any parties where they observe dangerous levels of overcrowding, the statement said.
Residents are responsible for controlling alcohol on their property and the people they allow into their home, the statement said.
This approach deviates from the previous year in that residents will no longer be able to work with police to combat disruptive behavior at house parties, Warman said. The police department had no interest reinstating the amnesty program the neighborhood association worked out with Mifflin residents last year, he said.
The number of arrests made at the block party increased from 2011 to 2012, and Verveer said it is possible with stricter enforcement May 4 could see even more.
“Not that many individuals were arrested for trespassing last year,” Verveer said. “The new crackdowns mean more this year.”
Mifflin Street will also remain open to traffic throughout the weekend, Verveer added.
Verveer added police plan extend their strict enforcement to the entire downtown area, specifically the Langdon Street neighborhood and residential area west of Park Street. He explained police are prepared for additional house parties likely to spring up outside the Mifflin neighborhood and intend to crack down on those as well.
Verveer said police have three main reasons for the decision to change their stance towards this year’s block party.
MPD views their decision to recall support for block party as the only way to control the event, Verveer said.
“[Police] see this as a natural progression from the stricter rules from last year,” Verveer said.
The views of Mayor Paul Soglin were also taken into account, with Soglin strongly believing the block party must end, Verveer said.
Verveer said Revelry was another contributing factor to the MPD decision. The festival will be the only city-sanctioned event held that day, he said.
Both Warman and Verveer declined to comment on whether these changes in MPD’s approach will have any effect on the event.
UPDATE: Revelry’s executive committee issued a strongly worded statement early Friday morning responding to the new information about MPD’s plans for the Mifflin Street Block Party.
“We find it offensive that [Magolan] would use our festival as a scapegoat for the Madison Police Department’s decision to increase Mifflin St. enforcement on May 4th. That decision was MPD’s, and MPD’s alone,” the committee said in the statement. “This decision by the Madison Police Department is in our opinion, counterproductive to everything we have been trying to build. It is our view that Badgers should have the freedom to decide how they want to celebrate the end of the year, be it at Mifflin Street, Revelry, or none of the above.”