Deltopia, an annual event held in Isla Vista, escalated into full-scale riots on Saturday.
According to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office press release, the huge, alcohol-fueled party, which was attended by more than 15,000 guests, led to more than 100 arrests and 44 people were transported to the hospital.
“There were thousands of people everywhere, and everyone was drunk and/or high out of their minds,” journalism freshman Arinee Rahman said.
Violence erupted at approximately 9:30 p.m., when a UC Santa Barbara police officer, responding to a report of two stabbings, was hit over the head with a backpack holding several bottles of alcohol. While authorities were making the arrest, hundreds of partiers formed a crowd several blocks long and began throwing things at the police officers, including rocks, bricks and bottles. Kelly Hoover, a spokesperson for Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said three officers were injured during this incident.
“Individuals also ripped up stop signs, lit several small fires and damaged property, including several law enforcement vehicles,” the press release said.
“It started to get pretty wild once it got really dark,” philosophy freshman Idean Moslehi said. “The police were shooting rubber bullets at the crowd, and a lot of people kept trying to push empty trash bins into the police, but it was literally impossible with the bullets getting shot at us.”
Law enforcement eventually forced a barricade and used tear gas to break up the crowds, while officers repeatedly announced those at the scene were participating in an “unlawful assembly” and should clear the streets.
Backup was called in from the California Highway Patrol, the Lompoc and Santa Maria police departments and Ventura County. It took several hours for law personnel to restore order.
Business administration sophomore Adam Lucero said he believed the police actions were justified.
“There were so many people trying to start stuff with the cops,” he said. “I definitely don’t think (the police) were out of line.”
Last year’s event, which drew a comparable amount of people, also ended in distress: Cal Poly sociology freshman Giselle Ayala was found dead on the beach after falling off the cliffs that stretch along Del Playa Drive. The coroner’s report indicated she was intoxicated and had marijuana in her system.
On April 2, Dean of Students Jean DeCosta sent out a campus-wide email reminding students of this tragedy and asking them to not attend.
“I understand that plans for another Deltopia are being spread on social media,” the email said. “The community of Isla Vista and UCSB are urging visitors to stay away and avoid the potential for unwanted events such as alcohol violations, fines and possible injury. Isla Vista Sheriff’s Department will be increasing officers and will maintain a no-tolerance policy for law violations.”
Locals also expressed their frustration with tourists coming to Isla Vista.
“This event clearly went downhill and downhill fast. All of us know the reason for this too, which are the out-of-towners. These people do not live here and therefore hold no obligation to maintain our homes,” read one post on the event’s public Facebook page.
Deltopia was known as Floatopia when it was held on the local beaches, but was moved to Del Playa Drive after police shut down the beaches because of environmental damage.