Landlord: I'll evict planners of Bellingham block party that led to riot

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 15, 2013 

BELLINGHAM - A Bellingham landlord plans to evict tenants - and send incriminating photos to their parents - for hosting a huge block party that triggered a riot this weekend on Indian Street.

Residents of 1211 Jersey St. said at least 100 people had crammed into a courtyard in the apartment complex Saturday night, Oct. 12, for a "block party."

Police broke up the party early, before 10 p.m., telling a live DJ to pack it up, and barring dozens, perhaps hundreds, of newcomers from getting in. Partiers migrated two blocks to Laurel Park, where the rowdy crowd swelled to 400 or 500.

Cellphone videos posted on YouTube show partiers blocking the street, dancing on the roof of a car, ripping up and throwing around a stop sign, and lobbing dishes and glass bottles at patrol cars. Police in riot gear cleared the crowd with pepper spray and smoke bombs.

Three people were arrested Saturday but more instigators could face charges. Police have asked the public to send in photos and videos to Detective Gina Crosswhite, 360-778-8835.

Many residents of the Jersey Street apartments are college students, and their parents are co-signers, said Mike Hays, owner of Hammer Properties. If they're evicted for breaking the terms of their lease, they have to keep paying rent until a new tenant can be found.

"But ultimately," Hays said, "their parents are responsible."

So if those crowd-sourced pictures clearly show tenants participating in the party, the images will get forwarded to their parents, courtesy of Hammer Properties. And if police find proof of who planned the block party, Hays plans to evict them and tack on a $500 fine, as outlined in the lease.

Back in June, officers broke up another block party at the same apartment complex. But Hays didn't hear about it until days later. No one was cited. He asked for a phone call if it happened again, so organizers wouldn't get away without consequences. This time, police alerted him before shutting down the party, and he's since forwarded names of all of his tenants to investigators, he said.

Several tenants of 1211 Jersey who answered their doors this week blamed the riot on underage drinkers who flooded the party and didn't want to end their night early. Most residents, on the other hand, just went back into their rooms "in the interest of self-preservation," said Anthony Ellis, a senior at Western Washington University.

Another senior at WWU, Joel Maltos, who lives on the bottom floor, said he participated in the party in June. But he avoided this one altogether, choosing instead to watch a televised baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox, because the courtyard was full of college freshmen and high school students.

"So obvious," he said. "So stupid."

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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