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City calls off Mifflin Street Block Party

Police chief cites safety concern

MADISON, Wis. - The City of Madison is calling off the annual spring event known as the Mifflin Street Block Party, citing safety issues.

A letter issued by the police department states the spring student party will no longer be a city-permitted or sanctioned event. It states that the toll of the spring student party far outweighs any benefit to the community.

"It got to the point in 2011 where it was marred by violence.  It wasn't just drinking, it was the stabbings, that was a great concern to us," said Mark Woulf, food and alcohol policy coordinator with the city.

The city says anyone considering hosting a party in the downtown area the weekend of May 4 is strongly encouraged to reconsider. Madison police went to door to door, as they do every year, warning Mifflin Street residents the law doesn't take a day off. 

"Because of the event's history, people get confused about all this.  You can't be underage and drinking on Mifflin just like you can't on University Avenue.  Nothing new, same efforts everybody uses every day of the week, everywhere in the city, but somehow the message has gotten foggy on Mifflin," said Madison Police Lt. Dave McCaw.

The city has listed a plan for May 4, including keeping Mifflin Street open to traffic and parking, a no tolerance policy for any house parties in the downtown area and sanctions from the University of Wisconsin Dean of Students for anyone arrested or cited.

Madison city Alder Mike Verveer told WISC-TV that City Hall backs the move. He said the block party wasn't safe. He acknowledged there might be push-back from students.

The police department said criminals use the conditions created by house parties as an opportunity to commit crimes such as theft, burglary, robbery, battery and sexual assault.

The letter also notes that the party will not be held in future years.

The party draws thousands and after recent violence city officials are now referring students to an alternative school sponsored event, Revelry Music and Arts Festival.

VIDEO: City calls off Mifflin Street Block Party

"It's an attempt to create an official end of the year music festival at UW-Madison, because we don't have one," said one of the event organizers, Sarah Mathews.

The festival was not intended to replace the block party, but it falls on the same day.

Woulf said this makes a big difference and the city is supportive of the event, noting it helps crowd levels and limit attendance to students.

Students living on Mifflin said they will still enjoy the day.  Others have voiced their opposition to the end of the block party on Facebook.

Madison Police made 500 arrests at last year's block party.

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