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Large Pearl Street Mall gathering causes damage to businesses

Police said three businesses reported property damage – now they're looking for videos and photos from the gathering.

BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder police are working to identify people involved in a large gathering that they said caused significant damage to businesses at the Pearl Street Mall.

According to the Boulder Police Department (BPD), officers responded late Friday night and early Saturday to a gathering that grew to an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 people. BPD said the gathering prompted concerns about dangerous crowd conditions and reports of property damage to local businesses.

BPD said it started with a crowd of about 200 in the 1100 block of Pearl Street at around 9:30 p.m. By 11 p.m., BPD said, the crowd had more than quadrupled, and people were hanging from light poles and trees. Others went up on rooftops and damaged windows, tables, chairs and outdoor heating posts, according to police.

Police said Monday that they have spoken with every business owner in the 1100 block of Pearl Street. Of the 20 or so businesses on the block, three reported property damage, according to police. Police also said a woman sustained unspecified injuries. 

Police are asking anyone with videos or photos from the gathering to submit them to their evidence submission portal

Restaurants continue to recover following the destruction. 

Japango, a sushi restaurant near the chaos, sustained some of the worst damage. The crowd destroyed furniture and tables used for their outdoor patio, a feature that allowed them to remain open and afloat during the pandemic. 

"I honestly don’t know how anyone didn’t get seriously hurt because the videos are pretty insane," said Erin Banis, who owns the restaurant with her husband. 

The couple received a call from the manager on duty, describing the chaos and crowd. Banis' husband immediately went in to find eight tables destroyed, along with blood on pillows used as part of the outdoor patio set. 

"This isn’t how we want Boulder to be. This isn’t what we want this community to go through," Banis said. 

Other business owners asked police to escort employees out of the area, including Freddie's Hotdog stand owner Mike Horowitz. 

Horowitz received a message from an employee manning the stand, saying things were getting out of control. When Horowitz arrived, his employee and stand were starting to be surrounded by the crowd. 

"Halloween is one of my best nights of the year, but that one was not good," Horowitz said. 

The crowd is believed to have been made up of mostly young people, including a large number of CU Boulder students.

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BPD said the University of Colorado Boulder Police Department (CUPD) will be working with them on the investigation, and students found to have violated the university's student code of conduct or broken the law will face disciplinary action from the university.

Police said it appears some people were drawn to the area in response to social media efforts to bring back the Pearl Street Mall Crawl, a tradition discouraged by businesses and city officials in recent years due to safety and property damage concerns.

“We understand the desire to go out and have a good time on a beautiful holiday weekend,” Deputy Police Chief Stephen Redfearn said in a statement. “The police department supports safe, responsible gatherings. What occurred on Pearl Street last night, however, posed significant danger to participants, resulted in unacceptable damage to property and required extensive police resources to address.”

BPD said police responded with a large presence and began working to disperse the crowd. Many of the people appeared to be under the influence, according to police, but most of them responded to verbal commands.

There were also public health concerns, BPD said, as unmasked people were very close to each other.

BPD said investigators will review drone footage to identify anyone who was breaking the law and arrest them.

“We recognize the negative impact a situation like this has on our local business community, which is already feeling significant pressure due to the pandemic,” Redfearn said. “We will be using our investigative resources to demonstrate that there are consequences to destruction of property and other unlawful behaviors.”

Anyone who witnessed or experienced property damage is asked to contact BPD at 303-441-3333.